Art worth Rs 39 cr on offer at Christies first sale in India

Written by Ivinder Gill | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 15 2013, 14:14pm hrs
Christies auctionMatheran (1976) by Syed Haider Raza
A total of 83 works of modern and contemporary Indian art, estimated to be worth $6.2 million (R39 crore), will be put up for sale at Christies first auction in India, to be held on December 19 in Mumbai.

Works from the personal collection of the late Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, Mumbai-based gallerists, will be the centrepiece of the auction.

Artists represented from the Gandhys collection include Vasudeo S Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, Syed Haider Raza, Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain and Jamini Roy.

With prices ranging from R60,000 to R7.5 crore, Christies is hoping for an enthusiastic response in India, says Sonal Singh, head of sale of Christies in Mumbai. Christies also plans to make the auction an annual affair.

Singh hopes the auction will be able to garner at least Rs 38 crore ($6.02 million), if not more. The auction house is open to holding auctions in cities like Delhi as well.

Indian art has been doing very well at auctions in New York and London, where buyers have been mostly Indians, prompting Christies to hope for an equally thumping response from the auction in Mumbai.

The first lot in the sale would be an early landscape by Gaitonde, painted shortly after he left the School of Art in Bombay in 1949, and estimated at Rs 8-12 lakh.

A Tyeb Mehta painting from the Mahishasura series (1994) is the most expensive art work on sale, estimated to be worth between Rs 7.5 crore-Rs 9.5 crore.

Other works include artist Ram Kumars work in oil from the 1960s, titled Benaras, estimated at Rs 35-45 lakh; Razas 1976 canvas Matheran estimated at Rs 1-1.5 crore; Mehtas 1991 acrylic on canvas Falling Figure, estimated at Rs 3-5 crore, and a work by Roy, Untitled (Head of a Woman), a gouache on card portrait, estimated at Rs 2-3 lakh.

An intimate Untitled (Family Portrait) of the Gandhys by Husain, painted in 1967, is part of the lot, and is estimated at Rs 25-35 lakh. The collection also includes works by Ganesh Pyne, Piloo Pochkhanawala, Nalini Malani, Nasreen Mohamedi, Anju Dodiya and Arpita Singh.

Christies Indian art sales have been steadily growing and hit $34 million last year.

Other auction houses like Sothebys are also capitalising on Indian art. In March this year, Sothebys in New York sold paintings from Amrita Jhaveris collection, featuring Husain, Mehta, FN Souza and Raza, for $6.7 million and set four artist records. But Sothebys inaugural auction of Art of Imperial India in London in October beat all estimates, hitting a whopping sales figure of Rs 18,25,98,304 (1,837,930). The star lot of the sale was a rare 18th century enamelled and bejewelled gold tray and casket (paan-daan), which sold for Rs 6,58,19,539 (662,500) more than double its pre-sale estimate of 200,000-300,000.


* Total works of art on sale: 83

* Total worth: Rs 39 crore

* Price range of art works: Rs 60,000-7.5 crore

* Most expensive art work: Tyeb Mehtas Mahishasura (1994)

* Works comprise mostly paintings, two sculptures

* Main artists: VS Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, SH Raza, Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain, Jamini Roy