Germany could pay $3m to borrow Tehran’s Modern art

Negotiations include huge loan fee part of which will help fund revamp of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art


Cultural diplomacy with Iran comes at a price: officials in Tehran are negotiating a loan fee of up to $3m with their German counterparts, we understand. The fee is for a planned exhibition organised by Berlin State Museums of works of Modern art from the collection of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA).

Last month, Rome’s museum of Modern art, MaXXI, announced that it was next in line after Berlin to show paintings from the collection, which includes works by Picasso, Rothko, Pollock and Bacon, acquired just before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The director of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, is also keen to stage a show, drawing on works acquired at the end of the 1970s, when the late shah’s wife, Farah Pahlavi, championed the acquisition of Modern art from the West and backed the founding of the Tehran museum.

The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, which was among the first to start talks with Tehran, ended negotiations to borrow the entire Farah Pahlavi collection when the potential loan fee reached $1m, we understand. When the Musée Picasso in Paris lent works abroad to raise funds for its revamp, we reported that the loan fee was around $1m per institution. Berlin State Museums and MaXXI declined to comment on possible loan fees. A spokeswoman for the Smithsonian’s museum of Modern and contemporary art says: “We are in early discussions on bringing these great treasures to the Hirshhorn—a first-time exhibition in the US. No loan fees have been discussed as yet.”