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Fascinating story of art in an unexpected location.

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A new book reveals a collection bought by the wife of the Shah of Iran in the 1970s. Alastair Sooke talks to Farah Pahlavi, who was known as the Jackie Kennedy of the Middle East, about works by the likes of Bacon, Warhol and Picasso stored in the vaults of a Tehran museum. 

“The first time I met Andy Warhol was in Washington, at the White House,” says Farah Pahlavi, the exiled widow of the last Shah of Iran, who was overthrown during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Wearing a badge on her lapel in the shape of her homeland, emblazoned with the Pahlavi coat of arms, the 80-year-old ‘Shahbanu’, as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s queen consort is still known among supporters, is sitting in a smart bookshop on Piccadilly in London, recalling a visit to the US in 1975, when she attended a dinner at the White House hosted by President Gerald Ford. In front of her is a copy of Iran Modern: The Empress of Art, a lavish new publication that tells the extraordinary story of a collection of around 150 modern Western artworks that Iran’s imperial government acquired during the 70s, under her supervision.

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To read more on the BBC:

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