Iran customs holds Pollock masterpiece

Iran customs holds Pollock masterpiece

TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
Iran customs holds Pollock masterpiece

‘Mural on Indian Red Ground’ has been seized by Iran customs since May 11.

Iran’s customs service is holding on to a multi-million-dollar painting by US artist Jackson Pollock over “undeclared debt” owed to it by the government, an official from Tehran’s museum of contemporary arts told the Mehr news agency yesterday.

The work, “Mural on Indian Red Ground” (1950), was being returned to Iran from Japan, where it had been on loan for an exhibition, when it was seized on May 11 by the customs service, Ehsanollah Abbasi was quoted as saying.

He said he went to the customs depot to speak to managers about why it had not been cleared to be returned to his museum.

“They told me that the culture ministry had uncleared debt,” he was quoted as saying.

The painting had an estimated value of $250 million and is considered one of the prize pieces in the Tehran museum, which also features works by Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore.

Most of the collection was built up by Iran’s former queen Farah Pahlavi, who deployed a team of experts to tour Western auctions and snap up prestige artworks.