Which Turkish company bought Venice’s San Clemente Island?
According to Deloitte Turkey, Turkish companies have bought foreign companies worth a total of $16.5 billion between 2010 and 2014. The highest figure was in 2014. This year, Turkish companies paid a total of $7 billion for foreign companies.
In the purchases made in 2013, there was the San Clemente Island in Venice, bought by the Permak Group for 150 million euros.
I had the opportunity to visit the island and talk to the owners while I was in Venice for the 56th International Art Biennale.
The Permak Group was founded in 1977 by Selim Uyar to produce textile machines. It now operates in technology, construction, energy and tourism fields. The first one to consider that the group should open up to Europe was one of the second generation bosses, Emir Uyar.
While Emir Uyar, the deputy head of Permak’s executive committee, was searching for an investment in Europe, Italian banks suggested the San Clemente Island.
“The price of the 70,000 square meter island was very convenient, together with its church and hotel. We bought it right away,” Selim Uyar said.
This island has an important place in the history of Venice. Since the church was built in 1131, the island has been the gathering place for crusaders before they departed for Jerusalem. For many centuries, the island was ruled by Camaldolese monks.
When the French and Austrians invaded Venice, the monks left the island and the monastery was converted into a women’s mental hospital. The first wife of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was one of the patients of the island.
The Uyar family wanted to protect the history of the island. They restored the church before restoring the hospital, which was converted into a hotel by the name San Clemente Palace in the 2000s. The family also went after lost sculptures.
Selim Uyar showed me one sculpture that was recollected from the police.
The San Clemente Island is an attractive place for weddings. Actor George Clooney wanted to get married on the island but the hotel was fully booked. The San Clemente Palace is managed by St. Regis and claims to be the most luxurious hotel in Venice.
Emir Uyar is right when he says, “For a Turkish company to buy an island which has an important place in the history of Venice is important in terms of Turkey’s image.”
Because Venice stands out in its arts, the Uyar family wants the San Clemente Palace to be associated with art. As a matter of fact, while I was on the island, Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj and sculptor İskender Yediler, who is based in Berlin, exhibited their works in the yard of the hotel within the context of the 56th International Art Biennale of Venice.
A “Turkish coffee week” will be organized in the hotel during the summer months this year. The Permak Group is the Turkish company which has made the biggest investment in Italy in one single purchase. For now.
I say “for now” because in the coming days, another Turkish company, Global Yatırım Holding (Global Investment Holdings), owned by Mehmet Kutman, will be participating in the tender to be organized for the port of Venice.