Turkey looking to enter world auction sector with record sales

Turkey looking to enter world auction sector with record sales

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Turkey looking to enter world auction sector with record sales

Antik AŞ Executive Board Chairman Turgay Artam says that Turkish art and collection business does not compare to the world. AA photo

Valuable works of art are changing hands for millions of dollars at auctions in Turkey, but the country’s
share of the market is still just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the world, a leading auctioneer has said.

“In Turkey, the art and collection business is at the bottom of the ladder. It would not be true to compare it to the word. The global auction market is close to 20 billion dollars a year. Turkey’s share remains at 80 million to 90 million dollars,” Antik A.Ş. Executive Board Chairman Turgay Artam recently told Anatolia news agency.

“In auctions abroad, companies’ biggest advantage is that they address an international market as well as their hundreds of years of auctioneering history. But in Turkey, there is an auction market that cannot enter the world market because of legal restraints,” he said.

Antik A.Ş. is aiming to break into the international arena with contemporary artists, Artam said. “Our goal is to increase interest in culture and arts, and to promote Turkish art and artists. In this way, they get the share they deserve.”

Artam said he started in the business by collecting stamps and old money in his childhood. Later, he founded the Antik A.Ş. Auction House. “At the beginning of the 1990s, an auction culture appeared in Istanbul thanks to magnificent auction organizations. People began to show interest in auctions, buying and selling artworks in a transparent way.”

270 auctions organized in 30 years

Antik A.Ş. has organized 270 auctions so far, he said. “It was not easy to reach this number. As a result of hard work, my wife and I established Turkey’s first auction company, which has been organizing auctions for 30 years. People’s trust is the key factor behind our success. We have sold or consulted on some 100,000 antique objects, paintings and works of art.”

He said they organized auctions under the main themes of classical and contemporary Turkish paintings and calligraphy, Orientalist paintings, Ottoman artwork and 19th-century European art. “We also organize auctions for classic automobiles, rare wines, precious books and collectable watches that open the doors of a different world to art lovers.”

Artam said they made a first in 1997 with a “Picasso-Matisse” exhibition.

“There was such a big interest in the exhibition that it broke our visitor record within a short time. This exhibition was a kind of beginning for international exhibitions in the country. Western art always draws interest in Turkey,” he said.

“Orientalist artists’ works in Turkey have reached record prices in our auctions. The most expensive foreign artwork that has been sold so far in a Turkish auction is Alberto Pasini’s ‘The Harem in the Garden,’” Artam said, noting that it sold for 2.8 million Turkish Liras.

Next, Antoine De Favray sold for 2.1 million liras. “International artists like Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, Arman and Julian Opie draw big interest at our auctions,” he said.
Artam said each auction had very enjoyable and exciting moments. “For example, our 227th auction, in which we sold Osman Hamdi Bey’s ‘The Tortoise Trainer,’ was very exciting. As a result of a 20-minute competition, it reached 5 million liras from 1 million liras. It is the most expensive painting sold in Turkey. It was very exciting to give it to its new owner.”

He said buyers could be categorized into groups like collectors, private museums, investment-linked funds and individual buyers who purchase artwork as a hobby. “It starts as a hobby at first but as people learn about the details of the works, they become collectors.”