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Mehmed Sarper

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"I am a dusty old man crumbling among his dusty old objects."
Mehmed Sarper[src]

Mahmed Sarper was a Turkish antiquities dealer based in Istanbul, Turkey.


Around 1921, Sarper was an aspiring painter who worked worked as an auction secretary. When some Ottoman antiquities from Topkapi Palace came to auction, he served as the official auction secretary, creating the transcript of the auction, including a ram's fleece. When the fleece didn't sell at the auction, he took it home and used the backside as a canvas for a portrait.[1]

Eventually, he gave up on his career as an artist, and opened an antique shop, with the portrait hanging in his shop for sale. Eventually he became acquainted with Daan van Rooijen.

In April 1941, Sarper was visited in his shop by van Rooijen and two others, Indiana Jones and Omphale Kiapos. While Sarper tried to exchange friendly banter, van Rooijen came straight to the point and brought up Sarper's role as the auction secretary and the ram's fleece. Sarper immediately recalled the fleece and pointed out the portrait in his store. Jones took down the portrait as Sarper lamented that no one had ever wanted to buy it. Immediately, handfuls of money appeared and Sarper completed the sale, not knowing how valuable his 'canvas' was.[2]



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