Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980) Untitled Oil on canvas 90 × 130 cm.
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Iran's smart set turned out in force for this year's Tehran Art Auction, spending a record amount as the country's modern and contemporary art scene thrives in the face of economic sanctions.Held Friday, the annual event was a sell-out, raising $5.1 million from the auction of works by Iranian artists, more than double the amount fetched last year.While Western sanctions since 2010 on Iran's oil and financial sectors have sapped Iranian collectors' purchasing power and forced them to retreat from international art auctions like Christie's, they have also provided a catalyst to build up the domestic art market.Former managing director of Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art Alireza Sami Azar, who is credited with bringing Iran's contemporary art collection out of hiding, founded Tehran Art Auction.The Iranian government has not promoted Iranian art domestically or internationally, leaving the private sector to fill the gap through galleries and auctions.
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