Vandalism mars 16th century Persian masterpieces

Auction houses have long profited from the 19th century practice of destroying precious painted manuscripts from Iran, India or Turkey by selling pages ripped from the books. Souren Melikian of the New York Times looks at this phenomenon.

"Ripping apart the thousands of precious painted manuscripts removed from Iran, India or Turkey and taken to Europe in the 19th and 20th century was routine among Western dealers. It allowed them to make a bigger profit, as Joseph Soustiel of Paris remarked to me one day in the 1960s, when I asked why he was cutting paintings from a 15th-century Persian manuscript of Nezami’s Five Poems.”