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Top 200 Collectors

Halit Cingillioglu and Kemal Has Cingillioglu

Halit Cingillioglu and Kemal Has Cingillioglu

London; Monaco

Banking

Contemporary art; Impressionism; Modern art; Postwar art

Overview

Halit Cingillioglu and Kemal Has Cingillioglu are members of one of Turkey’s most prominent banking families. Halit has worked for various banks, brokerage houses, and insurance companies since the early 1970s. He’s the founder and principal shareholder of C Group, a Turkish banking and financial-services conglomerate, and the former chairman of Demirbank.

In 2001, the New York Times reported that Halit Cingillioglu put up for auction nine paintings by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, and Picasso, though executives for the auction house declined to comment on the ownership issues surrounding the sale. During the sale, Monet’s 1902 cityscape Houses of Parliament, Setting Sun became the focus of a ferocious competition between two unidentified bidders. It sold for $14.5 million, slightly below its $15 million estimate. Another Monet on offer during the sale, a “Water Lilies” painting from 1907, sold for $7.1 million, also below its estimate, and Manet’s Brunette With Bare Breasts (1872) inspired a more impassioned contest, with four bidders fighting to own it.

Like many in his family, Kemal also works as a financier. Both of them have served in advisory roles to the world’s two largest auction houses. Halit sits on the International Council for Sotheby’s and Kemal was a member of the European Advisory Board at Christie’s. In 2013, Halit proposed demolishing a 1930s townhouse in a central London conservation area for the purpose of building a seven-story “iceberg house” complete with an underground swimming pool, spa, and game rooms.

Correction, December 24: An earlier version of this article stated that Demirbank was “seized” by the government in 2001; in fact, it was taken over in 2000 by a governmental body and ultimately sold to HSBC. The takeover was later declared illegal by a Turkish court. But the merger was not reversed. An earlier version of this article also referenced a 2001 New York Times article, which speculated about the use of Demirbank’s funds to purchase the nine paintings that were ultimately auctioned at Sotheby’s; as there have to-date been no charges brought, we have removed this reference.

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