A Turkish millionaire businessman who claims to have the largest collection of prayer beads worth $100 million (N15.85b) has chosen Abu Dhabi for the first public exhibition-cum-sale of his rare items.
About 66 famous Turkish artists have taken six to eight months to create each string of hand-made beads that reflect the Ottoman civilisation, Berat Serdar Neziroglu, 55, told newsmen.
The beads made of expensive materials such as diamonds, ivory and gold, etc, are being displayed at Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. He has not brought the most expensive prayer bead worth $ 1.5 million (about N238m) among his 5,000-strong bead collection in the strongroom in his Ankara home.
The strongroom is guarded by three security guards 24 hours a day in three shifts, apart from being secured with electronic security apparatus, he said.
All of them have been insured also but he does not readily remember the annual premium he pays to his insurance company.
The 255 beads on display at Emirates Palace for three months will be changed in between, he said. A bead worth $60,000 (N9.5m) made of black diamond and gold is the priciest among them.
Sefik Vural Altay, Turkish Ambassador to the UAE, inaugurated the exhibition on Sunday evening, which will continue at the Caviar Bar area of the Emirates Palace lobby until June 30.
The businessman started collecting the beads as a hobby which has brought him fame across the world. “Business has made me rich but anybody can make money by doing business. And I am not the richest person. But I have the privilege of having the largest collection of prayer beads in the world,” Neziroglu said.
It has earned him 360,000 followers on Facebook. “From the UAE alone I have 24,000 followers,” he said.
About 60 per cent of his followers are men and 40 per cent women. “Many of them are old women who like prayer beads very much.”
He got into the hobby during a flight to Paris ten years ago. “I purchased a prayer bead worth $100 to spend the time. It was an ordinary bead but I started looking for artistic beads and collected them.
Famous Turkish artists usually take six to 12 months to create a prayer bead. “As I pay good remuneration, they started completing my work within eight months,” he said.
Apart from enjoying the fame, he wants to cash in on the business potential of his collections so he has started displaying them for sale.
He has registered a trademark titled “The art of prayer beads” for making the prayer beads commercially. Now he has entrusted his automobile business to his two sons and dedicated himself to the prayer beads.