"I did not expect that all works could be sold," Kianian said. "The excitement was very high, and that pushed me to raise the offers."
A photo by Jamshid Bayrami on the hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, was sold for about $6,000. Bayrami's works have been sold previously at Sotheby's auctions in London and Qatar.
"Many know that investment cannot be limited to real estate, gold and carpets," the photographer said. "It also shows the strength of Iranian art lovers and artists."
The manager of the auction, Ali Reza Samei Azar, said he had hoped to top last year's auction that brought in $1.3 million, but the sinking economy initially made him think they "were dreaming."
"We rarely see the sale of 100 percent of artworks in international auctions," Samei Azar gushed after the 3 1/2-hour event on June 28. "Iranian society has shown that art can be an investment."
He described many of the buyers as "young and Western educated."
"It was exciting," Samei Azar said. "One-third of buyers were new buyers. It shows the growth potential for Iran's art market."
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