Turkish billionaire settles art fight

Written by Staff Writer, CNN New York

A Turkish-Iraqi billionaire businessman has emerged as the victor in a long drawn-out and bitter divorce, settling a bitter squabble over multi-million dollar artworks worth an estimated $676 million

In the two-and-a-half year-long court battle over the sale of some of the most sought-after art from the 20th and 21st centuries, the man known as Dr. Cevdet Yıldırım named himself the new owner of the prized, formerly elite cache.

The agreement was reached through the New York State Supreme Court, according to Artnet, which published the settlement information on Tuesday. The value of the artworks, that include pieces by Picasso, Andy Warhol, Matisse and Rothko, has not been revealed.

“I appreciate the generosity of Dr. Cevdet Yıldırım, and I am grateful to be treated as a valued friend,” Eli Broad, the Los Angeles art collector who was his largest creditor, said in a statement, according to Artnet. “I’m confident that there will be continued communication.”

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Picasso’s “Woman With a Feather” from 1949. Courtesy of Simon Schama

Yıldırım argued Broad, 78, had defrauded him and failed to pay about $3.9 million he was owed in 2007, according to Artnet. It reported that the billionaire argued he only agreed to sell the art because of his friendship with Broad, saying his deal to sell the collection included the gift of his daughters’ shares in their father’s companies, when he realized they could become worthless in the deal.

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In his statement, Broad cited his long-time friendship with Yıldırım.

“I’ve been friends with Dr. Cevdet Yıldırım and his daughters for many years,” he said. “They are kind, charitable and thoughtful people who are extremely generous to so many people, and I look forward to continued communication with them in the years to come.”

Yıldırım told Artnet he hoped the matter would put an end to “this long painful process that has been taking place for two-and-a-half years.”

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