By Ladane Nasseri

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) — For 30 years, Parviz Tanavoli led a quiet life teaching sculpture and holding shows in his native Iran and abroad. That changed in April when a work sold for a record $2.84 million at an auction in Dubai.

“The phone started ringing a few hours after that,” said Tanavoli, 70, in an interview in his studio in northern Tehran. “I’m getting upset with buyers. This is not a coin shop. I have a limited number of works.”

To stop the flood of offers to buy his sculptures, he unplugged his phone for several days, he said.

Record crude oil prices that buoyed the fortunes of Middle Eastern countries and individuals have spurred demand for artworks, prompting auction houses Christie’s International and Bonhams to hold sales in the region. Iranian lots were the favorites.

At Christie’s in April, Tanavoli’s 2-meter-tall bronze hieroglyphic-covered sculpture “The Wall (Oh Persepolis)” fetched an auction record for a Middle Eastern artist. Six of the seven top sales were Iranian. A month earlier, 45- year-old Farhad Moshiri sold a crystal-studded piece called “Love” for $1.05 million at Bonham’s in Dubai.

Modern and contemporary Iranian art, represented by Tanavoli and Moshiri, are markedly unique compared with their Middle Eastern counterparts, said William Lawrie, Dubai-based head of sale for Arab and Iranian contemporary art at Christie’s.

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