Istanbul association files complaint against municipality over portrait purchase

An Istanbul association has filed a criminal complaint against the city’s opposition municipality over its purchase of an Ottoman sultan’s portrait from a famous auction house in England, T24 news site reported on Monday.

The 770,00-pound (6.5 million lira) portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Fatih Sultan Mehmet, bought in an auction form Christie’s last month was purchased by unlawful means and likely to be a fraud, the Istanbul Suriçi Association said.

Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu announced on June 25 that the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality bought the painting believed to be the work of  Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.

The highly touted purchase sparked a debate among Turkish politicians and historians over the authenticity of the 15th century unsigned painting.

Officials at the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality have violated tender legislation, abused their jobs and inflicted damage on the public through the purchase, according to the complaint filed with an Istanbul prosecutor.