Dubai; Gstaad, Switzerland; London; New York
Private equity, real estate, and commodities
British-Iranian art collector Mohammed Afkhami likes to keep busy—he is vice chairman of the real estate investment firm London Strategic Land, and founder and managing partner of both the Dubai-based commodities firm MA Partners DMCC, and Magenta Capital Services, advisers in capital placement. Even with all that, he has still managed to buy art aggressively, building a collection of some 400 works. Afkhami’s first acquisition, a work by Sirak Melkonian for $500 in 2004, set him on a path to building a market for work by Iranian contemporary artists. Other artists in his collection are important Iranian figures Mohammad Ehsai, Shirin Neshat, and Ali Banisadr, as well as international blue-chip stars such as Anish Kapoor and Yayoi Kusama.
In 2007 he made a record-setting bid on Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri’s One world—Yek donia (2007), a seven-foot-wide map of the world comprising 90,000 Swarovski crystals. Though estimated at $80,000, Afkhami eventually won the bid for $601,000. (He told Artnet News in 2017 that the underbidder for that piece was powerhouse French luxury magnate and fellow Top 200 collector François Pinault.)
In addition to his private collecting, Afkhami is actively involved in strengthening the permanent museum holdings of works by artists from the Middle East and North Africa. He is a founding member of the British Museum’s Contemporary and Modern Middle Eastern Art acquisition group, and has served as co-chair of the Guggenheim’s Middle East and North African art acquisition committee.
In 2017 Afkhami organized a traveling exhibition of work from his collection, titled “Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians” that made stops at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; it showed the work of 23 artists, including Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Shirazeh Houshiary, Parviz Tanavoli, and Khosrow Hassanzadeh, among others. “We’re living together on this planet,” Afkhami told the CBC at the time. “We’re all the same. We might have different faiths, but at the core we all share certain fundamental tenets, and this art is one way to see that commonality.”