Tehran contemporary art auction realises $6.5m

A contemporary art auction in Tehran yesterday realised $6.5m.

The sale saw strong bidding from foreign buyers despite international sanctions on purchasing Iranian goods, with most using an intermediary.

Sohrab Iran art
Sohrab Sepehri is among Iran's most important artists

Among the highlights was a work by Sohrab Sepehri that sold for $967,120 - a new record price for an artwork auctioned in Iran.

Shiva Balaghi, an expert on the Middle East at Brown University, explained to the Guardian newspaper: "The growing art market in Iran is significant and is sustained by a new generation of local collectors.

"The recent Tehran auctions have been showing consistently strong prices. There has been notable interest in Iranian modern masters like Sohrab Sepehri, Marcos Grigorian and Parviz Tanavoli.

"Though prices for these works are rising, they are still fairly modest compared to their western counterparts.

"For relatively smaller sums, one can build a significant collection of modern and contemporary Iranian art. So for Iranians, art is a smart financial investment as well as a way to tap into one's cultural heritage."

The rise in interest in Iranian art among international collectors echoes the spectacular recent growth of the Indian art market. It's likely to remain affordable only as long as the sanctions remain in place.

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