An inspection was launched into verifying the authenticity of a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror some six months after it was purchased by the opposition Istanbul Municipality, said Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Dec. 24.
Purchased for 7.9 million liras in London's renowned Christie's Auction House, the portrait was created by Venetian painter Gentile Bellini and is a rare depiction of the ruler created during his lifetime.
The mayor said that he hopes the inspection of the artwork concludes before it turns into an investigation, adding that the municipality is willing to cooperate with authorities.
"Because we know that anyone who answers to the public could start to do unacceptable things in order keep their seats," İmamoğlu said in a meeting on Dec. 24.
The first round of elections when main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) Ekrem İmamoğlu won against the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) candidate were annulled by the Supreme Election Council (YSK).
İmamoğlu's time in office after his landslide win in the second round of elections have been accompanied by tense relations with the government, as Ankara most recently cancelled an aid campaign launched by the opposition mayor.
The mayor also noted that they were investigating a controversial recitation of the Quran in Turkish at a municipal event, which sparked debate within the Reigious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).
"The holy Quran should be read in Arabic. That's not to antagonize our language," the mayor said, adding that there was no call to prayer in Turkish at the event in question.