Readers of Dracula Chronicles are familiar with Shahnameh and the fact that Vlad/Dracula used it for his lessons of Persian language, ultimately falling in love with its heroes. This thousand year old epic Persian poem has been copied over the centuries by famous calligraphers and artists of miniature painting. Some of these copies are famous for their extraordinary artistry and are valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Even a single folio can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at international auctions. It has been said that the copy that is the subject of this post is the seventh most expensive book in the world.
Recently the state of Iran wanted to acquire a set of Shahnameh folios extant in a private collection. The Iranians consider these folios, from a particularly famous copy of Shahnameh, to be a national treasure. It seems the asking price was $20 millions dollars. Instead of paying this exorbitant price the national Iranian museum offered in an even exchange a painting by the Abstract Expressionist, Willem de Kooning (Dutch-American Draftsman and Painter Born: April 24, 1904 – Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Died: March 19, 1997 – East Hampton, New York). It seems this painting was something on David Geffen’s “must acquire” bucket list. This article gives an overview of the transaction that ultimately took place: http://goo.gl/Zw3lNe
So, whether he knows it or not, David Geffen is now inextricably connected with Dracula through the intermediation of de Kooning (the readers of Dracula Chronicles will note the fateful 9 letters in de Kooning’s name) and Shahnameh.
For the record: my folio of Shahnameh shown here was acquired by me in Morocco and is certainly not as valuable as those that enabled David Geffen obtain his desired de Kooning painting. 🙂 Nonetheless, the calligraphy is exquisite while the miniature painting is of a remarkable delicacy and vibrant colors, considering that is it many centuries old.