Iran denies banning prominent sculptor from leaving country

Sunday 03/07/2016

His works are displayed in major museums worldwide

TEHRAN - Iranian police denied Saturday claims by prominent sculptor Parviz Tanavoli they were behind a legal complaint that had prevented the artist from leaving the country earlier this month.

Tanavoli, one of Iran's top artists, said last week after having been refused passage at the airport that he was told in court "that the police had accused me of publishing false information and disturbing the public peace".

But police spokesman, Brigadier General Saeid Montazer Al-Mahdi, told ISNA news agency on Saturday that the "police has not filed any complaints against Tanavoli and his being banned from leaving the country... is due to a judicial order".

The artist's lawyer, Sadreddine Mahouzi, also told the official IRNA news agency that a private individual had brought a lawsuit against Tanavoli.

Local media reported that the person behind the lawsuit was a collection owner who had bought six of Tanavoli's works.

Last year, Tanavoli reportedly took the artworks for his personal museum and promised the owner another six works instead, but has not yet delivered.

Tanavoli's works are displayed in major museums worldwide including the British Museum, as well as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art.

The artist was heading to London for the launch of his new book, "European Women in Persian Houses", when he was stopped by authorities.