A sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti is on display during the opening ceremony of an exhibition of Western art at the Museum for Contemporary Art (TMOCA) in Tehran on November 20. EPA
A sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti is on display during the opening ceremony of an exhibition of Western art at the Museum for Contemporary Art (TMOCA) in Tehran on November 20. EPA

Warhol, Pollock, Rothko on rare display in Tehran

TEHRAN // Some of the world’s most expensive and rarely seen modern art, including works by the Americans Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, went on display on Saturday in a major exhibition in Iran.

They are part of a collection bought in the 1970s by dealers acting for Farah, the wife of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who fled into exile in 1979, heralding Iran’s Islamic revolution later that year.

Ever since the themes of many of the Western works have been considered too risqué to be publicly shown and have spent much of the past 36 years languishing in storage in the basement of Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

Among the 42 Western works featured in the museum’s three-month exhibition is Pollock’s “Mural on Indian red Ground”, completed in 1950 and considered one of his best drip paintings.

Five years ago, experts at Christie’s said that, were it put on the market, it would fetch $250 million.

Also featured is Warhol’s “Suicide”, a 1963 acrylic of a man leaping to his death from a building. A similar work from Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $105 million in 2013.

The American artist Mark Rothko’s “Sienna Orange and Black on Dark Brown” oil on canvas and Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon’s “Reclining Man with Sculpture” are also on show.

They are part of a joint exhibition also featuring 130 works by famed Iranian artist Farideh Lashai. A painter, writer, translator and visual artist, she died in 2013.

Iran’s culture minister Ali Jannati attended a preview on Friday night in a demonstration of official support from president Hassan Rouhani’s government.

Mr Jannati said that the Islamic republic’s recent nuclear deal with world powers had opened up potential for international cooperation in art as well as business and other fields.

“This is a first step and we hope to have more mutual cooperation to showcase outstanding Iranian artists as well as displaying more works from our foreign art collection,” he said.

The international works went underground after Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini railed against “Westoxification”, denouncing Western moral and sexual depravity which he said had infected the Islamic world.

Many films were banned from cinemas in Iran as was music and many books.

The Tehran museum did not hold a major exhibition of foreign art until 1999, a decade after Khomeini’s death.

Iran was then under the reformist 1997-2005 government of president Mohammad Khatami.

The current exhibition was jointly curated by Iran’s Faryar Javaherian and Italy’s Germano Celant, who said he was astonished at the museum’s collection.

“Many of them I had only seen before as reproductions but here we have the real thing,” Mr Celant said, noting that the basement held around 300 original pieces in storage.

Those include more than a dozen works by Warhol, including his Mao series of the Chinese communist leader, as well as Bacon’s Triptych, part of which features two naked men lying on a bed.

When it was publicly shown in Tehran in 2005, it was quickly taken down, reportedly on orders from the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance. Mr Jannati was not the minister at the time.

Mr Celant, an art historian, critic and former senior curator at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, acknowledged that works such as nudes were out of bounds but said many others shouldn’t be.

More cultural exchanges could bring greater global prominence to Iranian artists such as Lashai, he said.

“For me, it’s very important to start this kind of collaboration with Iran. This is a truly great international collection and it can help start a better connection between Iran and an outside audience.”

* Agence France-Presse


Name: Akeed

Based: Muscat

Launch year: 2018

Number of employees: 40

Sector: Online food delivery

Funding: Raised $3.2m since inception

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 640hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 850Nm from 2,300-4,500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 11.9L/100km
Price: Dh749,800
On sale: now

Mina Cup winners

Under 12 – Minerva Academy

Under 14 – Unam Pumas

Under 16 – Fursan Hispania

Under 18 – Madenat

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Company profile

Company name: Ogram
Started: 2017
Founders: Karim Kouatly and Shafiq Khartabil
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: On-demand staffing
Number of employees: 50
Funding: More than $4 million
Funding round: Series A
Investors: Global Ventures, Aditum and Oraseya Capital


Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

The specs: 2024 Mercedes E200

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cyl turbo + mild hybrid
Power: 204hp at 5,800rpm +23hp hybrid boost
Torque: 320Nm at 1,800rpm +205Nm hybrid boost
Transmission: 9-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 7.3L/100km
On sale: November/December
Price: From Dh205,000 (estimate)


South Africa:
Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada
Coach: Ottis Gibson

Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Imrul Kayes, Liton Das (wkt), Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim (wkt), Mustafizur Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed.
Coach: Chandika Hathurusingha

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days


Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Most Read
Top Videos