Istanbul Leads Turkish Art Market Explosion –

mubin orhon Istanbul Leads Turkish Art Market Explosion   artmarketblog.comConsidering that Forbes magazine reports that there are 35 billionaires in Turkey (2012), it is perhaps no surprise that the Turkish art market and the market for Turkish art is developing at a rapid pace.  Take, for instance, the painting by Turkish “Ecole de Paris” artist Mubin Orhon which was sold by Fine Art Auctions of Miami on the 23rd of February 2013 for US$242,500 against an estimate of  US$60,000 – 80,000 – not a record for the artist but a good result none the less.

The Turkish art market has been undergoing a transformation for the last 10 years but is has only been during the last few years that it has really emerged as an internationally significant art market. Serviced by many auction houses and art galleries, the Turkish art market is centred in the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul, which is home to the three main Turkish auction houses: Antik A.S., Bali Muzayede and Macka Mezat.  The most prominent auction house is Antik A.S., a family-owned auction house founded in 1981 and run by CEO Olgac Artram.

Although Antik A.S. is by far the most revered Turkish auction house, it was a sale conducted by Macka Mezat auctions that has made headlines over the past few months. The sale in question took place on February 17 and featured works from the collection of the Istanbul Bilgi University which has been pilloried for an apparent lack of transparency regarding the sale and for not being forthcoming with details of its collection.

According to Macka Mezat auctions, “The auction dated February 17th, 2013 will offer 145 lots for sale, 69 of which belong to the collection of Istanbul Bilgi University.  Out of these 69 lots, all of the 65 works of art have entered the collection of the University by direct purchase and the remaining four (lot no.1 and 22 drawings by Y.Arslan), lot no.98 Nil Yalter’s A/P edition video dated 1974) and lot no.102 an abstract composition by H.Anlı) are donations.”

Despite the controversy and the withdrawal of three works from the sale, the auction still went ahead and was a great success. The works that were of most interest to collectors were works by members of the “Ecole de Paris” group, namely Nejad Devrim, Selim Turan, Fikret Mualla, Mubin Orhon, Hakkı Anlı and Yuksel Arslan.

The top lot of the sale was Nejad Devrim’s “Abstract Composition” which sold for 1.4 million Turkish Liras (US$780,000 approx).  Top prices were also achieved for a work by Yuksel Arslan which sold for 500,000 Liras (US$280,000 approx), Fikret Mualla’s “Retrospective” which sold for 160,000 Liras (US$90,000 approx) and Canan Tolon’s “Abstract Composition” which fetched 95,000 Liras (US$52,000 approx).

The next major sales of Turkish art are being held by Sotheby’s and Christie’s in April.

image: “Composition” by Mubin Orhon

**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer.  He is the founder of the Art Market Blog ( which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others.  Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.


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  • Zen

    If there is real concern about the ever growing wealth gap, profits of this sector should be the would be the most highly taxed. I wonder how much wealth is locked up in this stuff which does filter down to the masses. It is just demand useless stuff created by unbashful marketing. Just because some paintings are done by famous artists , or thought to be, prices become exorbitant. A little known artist may produce paintings that are equally pleasing to the eyes but his paintings are worth little. I think everyone has an artist in him if he has interest in developing the skill. Art adds much to our enjoyment of life. Other than historical interest, does enjoyment increase just because it is painted by so and so?

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