Masterworks Lost During British Embassy Attack in Iran Revealed

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Ahmad, Fath 'Ali Shah, 2nd Qajar Shah of Iran (1822). Courtesy Government Art Collection, UK.

Three years ago, an unruly mob of protesters plundered the British Embassy in Tehran, destroying cultural treasures including six works of art. But only now has the British government identified the destroyed artworks along with their values, according to the Telegraph. The most valuable of the lost bounty is an 1823 painting of the second Qajar Shah of Iran worth £1.2 million ($2 million), which the Shah gifted to the British ambassador to Persia in the early 19th century.

Details of the lost works, which belonged to the Government Art Collection, have surfaced during Parliamentary proceedings this week, only days after foreign secretary William Hague announced that the UK is planning to reopen its embassy in Iran. The embassy was host to the initial meetings of the Tehran Conference—the momentous strategy meetings between the “Big Three” Allied leaders at the end of World War II. But Britain suspended diplomatic relations with Iran in 2011 after the protesters damaged the building.

Also among the hoard of lost artworks was a portrait of Queen Victoria by George Hayter and a still life of flowers by Sir Cedric Morris, each worth £20,000 (roughly $34,000); a £10,000 (roughly $17,000) oil painting of Gloucester Gate in Regent’s Park, London by Adrian Berg; and a painting of Edward VII by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes worth £2,000 (roughly $3,400).


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