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Manoucher Yektai, the artist who turned his back on the New York art world

2 min read  · 21 Jul 2023

Manoucher Yektai, “Blue Table” (1960). Copyright the artist’s estate, image courtesy of the Manoucher Yektai Estate and Karma, New York

Manoucher Yektai is on the HENI News radar as paintings by the late Iranian-American artist, who happily worked in obscurity for decades, are in demand among collectors.

Manoucher Yektai's HENI Score—a unique artist sentiment—has increased 132% after strong auction sales add up to a posthumous come-back.

An artist’s HENI score amalgamates data such as auction sales, NFT sales, news and social media mentions, gallery shows and museum exhibitions.


Auction sales of Yektai’s paintings have totaled an impressive $1.35m over the past two years.

His 1959 painting Fruit Bowl 11 sold for $206,000, more than five and a half times the high estimate, at Sotheby's online in April 2023. It has been traded once in the past, in 1959, the year it was painted.

Other notable sales include his Still Life (1969), which was sold for $204,000, more than triple the high estimate, at Bonhams, London in May 2023. It also had been traded once in the past.

Also recently, a 1964 untitled still life sold for $47,900, more than three times its upper estimate, at Christie’s online in July 2023. It too had only been traded once in the past.


Karma Gallery of New York, which represents the artist’s estate, organised a solo show of Yektai’s work in New York in 2021. It was his first show in four decades in the city.

Karma has presented his paintings at art fairs, including editions of Art Basel and Frieze.

In 2019 Sotheby’s presented previously unseen works in its London space, and in 2023, a private member’s club in London, the Art Club, is presenting a small display of the artist’s work. There have been no major museum shows, so far.

Manoucher Yektai painting in Sagaponack, New York, 1979. image courtesy of the Manoucher Yektai Estate and Karma, New York


Born in Tehran in 1921, Yektai and his first wife and fellow artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, arrived in New York via California in 1945. They divorced in 1953. She returned to Iran, enjoying late-career international success, which eluded her ex-husband during his life.

A painter and poet, he mixed with the leading artists of his day in New York, quickly making his mark with his thickly painted, gestural canvases, typically still lifes but also female nudes. His figurative works fell out of favor with the rise of Pop art and Minimalism in the 1960s, however.

A second marriage to a Greek shipping heiress meant he could afford to turn his back on the New York art world and move to Long Island, where he continued painting and writing poetry until his death in 2019, aged 97.


To get a deeper understanding of Manoucher Yektai’s career visit his HENI Dashboard; a unique graphical data tool illustrating an artist’s auction sales, shows, profiles, mentions and their HENI Score. You can search for any one of the 100,000 Artist Dashboards to quickly appreciate their trajectory as well as sharing via email, text and WhatsApp.


Manoucher Yektai

New York