The Portakal family has contributed to the artistic and cultural life of Turkey for four generations since the beginning of the 20th century. Yervant Portakal, born in 1883, started antique dealing and auction sales at the Grand Bazaar. He organized numerous auctions in houses and palaces. Among these are the Hejaz Governer Ahmet Hatip Pasha, Prince Burhaneddin, and Osman Hamdi Bey auctions. Yervant Portakal, who assisted in establishing the Istanbul Auctioneering Directorate, took honorary office there for a while.
Aret Portakal, who took on his father’s business in 1947, also held many auctions in houses and palaces. Among these are the Ayşe Sultan, Princess Emine, Mahmut Muhtar Pasha, Grand Vizier Kamil Pasha, Ahmet Dallı, and Consul Behçet Bey auctions.
Raffi Portakal, who had embraced the family business from 1964 onwards, opened his own gallery in 1973.
Raffi Portakal started giving art seminars and doing exhibitions in 1984. Among these exhibitions he has organized are the “Abdülmecit Efendi Paintings” (for Beymen), “Ottoman Calligraphy”, “The Orientalists”, and “Ottoman Masterpieces” exhibitions.
Between 10 December 2004 and 12 January 2005 he organized the “Great Masters of Western Painting” exhibition and sale which was held in Turkey for the first time and included paintings by Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Dali, Lautrec, Dufy, and Van Dongen.
Between 16 February 2010 – 28 April 2010 he organized the exhibition and sale of “Great Masters of Western Painting from Monet to Picasso”, also between 20 April 2010 – 9 May 2010 he organized “Modern and Contemporary Masters of the World from Warhol to Hirst”.
Between the years 1987 and 1991 he organized the İstanbul Antique and Art Fair auctions. Among the numerous auctions he held are also the collections of Satvet Lütfi Tozan, Samet Ağaoğlu, Salah Cimcoz, Ferit Edgü, Mesut Hakgüden, and the collections of the most prominent collectors of our country Şevket Rado and Emin Barın.
In addition to his activities as an antique dealer and an auctioneer, Raffi Portakal also works as an art consultant for private museums, corporations, and private collections.
Between 1985 and 1999 Portakal Art and Auction House achieved a series of “Culture and Art Seminars”.
Raffi Portakal has provided the composition of Sakıp Sabancı’s collection of paintings and calligraphy works. In 1998, the “Letters in Gold” exhibition comprising elect works from this collection was the guest of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, the Arthur M.Sackler Museum at Harvard University, and Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. Raffi Portakal, with Sakıp Sabacı, is one of the founders of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum.
Arden Yervant Portakal has been continuing the family business in the U.S.A at Miami, for many years.
As the fouth generation, Raffi Portakal’s daughter Maya Portakal took the family business. She studied art history in Paris and since 2007 she is maintaining the business of the Portakal Art and Culture House. She did the “Design Jewellery from the Great Masters of Contemporary Art” exhibition between 13 January 2012 – 28 January 2012.
Portakal Art and Culture House has been published the quarterly P Art and Culture Magazine in Turkish and English from the spring of 1996 to the summer of 2010.