Sale of Ottoman sultan’s throne stirs debate
Ömer Erbil - ISTANBUL
A throne, which is believed to belong to Abdülhamid II, the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire, has been sold for 100,000 Turkish Liras ($16,200) on the condition that it was not taken abroad, but the sale has stirred reactions.
A businessman bought the throne at the Istanbul Art and Antiques Fair by Nilgün Şensoy, a lecturer and antiquarian at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.
Yıldız Palace, where Abdülhamid II used to stay, was looted and partially burned by the public upon the abolition in 1909 after the 31 March Incident, a counter-coup by the anti-monarchist Ottoman generals.
Although Şensoy stresses that the throne does not belong to Abdulhamid II, she says that the throne was made by the Armenian Hapet and Nezeren Brothers, the carpenters who used to work for Yıldız Palace and was gifted.
“After each sultan was deposed, his belongings used to be sold by auction. My grandfather bought it at auction. My mother lived in a modern house, hiding this throne in the attic,” she said.
Sebahattin Türkoğlu, the former museum director of Yıldız Palace, reminded of the historical looting incident and said that another throne was put up for sale 20 years ago during his mission, but he stopped the sale and seized the throne.
“Does this work really belong to Yıldız Palace, it is doubtful. If this throne really came out of the palace, the authorities would have to seize this work and bring it to the museum,” he said.
UNESCO Turkey National Committee member Nezihi Başgelen said that the people who owned the artifact should be investigated how they obtained it.
“Yıldız Palace is a looted palace. We know that many works have been sold at auction before,” he added.