Stealing art

That’s right, we stole a painting from Istanbul!!

Ok, not really…but we learned the best lesson about haggling: literally don’t carry that much money on you.

Mike and I were trying to find the Grand Bazaar on our last day in Istanbul (see previous post about kilims), and we stumbled across this TINY store on the street that had a few paintings sitting on the ground outside. Mike immediately took to one watercolor that was leaning against a pole, so we went inside to ask about the price. “140 lira,” the guy said. Then, almost immediately, the man said “but for you, I can go as low as 120 lira.” Sweet. Mike opened his wallet – we only had 62 lira. We said, no thanks, we don’t have that much. “Well we might be able to get to 90 lira?” the man countered, clearly eager to make a sale. We shook our heads – we’re sorry, we seriously don’t have that much on us right now. We’d have to come back. “How much do you have?” “75 lira,” Mike said – even though we clearly did not. The guy started faux-thinking about that offer with his head tilted. “Ok, we can do that, but we’ll have to take it out of the frame.” He started walking to the back of the store to take it out of the frame, and Mike quickly said, “actually, we only have 65 lira” (still not true). The guy paused, shifted his weight a couple of times, and then said, “ok. If it’s cash, then we can do it.” Mike and I were pumped – we had just inadvertently haggled the guy down to less than half of the original asking price. As the man was taking the painting out of the frame, the store’s owner appeared, realized what was going on, and was none too pleased. We obviously don’t speak Turkish, but we can recognize a pissed-off tone when we hear one, and this poor man was getting an earful. Since we only had 62 lira, we ended up giving them 2 American dollars as well just to make sure we were above 65 overall. We’re really happy with it – it’s a big thing at over 11″x14″, and we got it for $40!

I was scoping some other oil paintings in the store while Mike was finalizing the deal, and after we scored the rugs at the Grand Bazaar, we went back to buy two more – one really small painting that I couldn’t get out of my head, and one that I thought would be great for my parents. As I said in the last post, I am nowhere near the level of haggler that Mike is, so we got both of those for 120 lira ($75). I still think it was a good deal, as we got three great paintings for $115 total.

We still have to frame our two paintings which will invariably cost more than the paintings themselves, but it’s worth it. We’re proud of ourselves – it’s our first two pieces of art we bought on our own, and we love them!


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