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Rediff.com  » Business » Indian art's millionaire club swells at Sotheby's

Indian art's millionaire club swells at Sotheby's

March 31, 2006 09:26 IST

The orgy of escalating prices for Indian art continued in New York where Sotheby's auctioned a record 148 modern and contemporary works (and, in an additional session, 30 miniature paintings, besides stone sculptures and jewellery from Southeast Asia).

Even though Tyeb Mehta's previous record was not broken at yesterday's auction, two paintings fetched over a million dollars each - a work by SH Raza (called Tapovan) claimed the highest at a searing $1,472,000, rising well above the estimated value of $800,000-1,000,000.

Tyeb Mehta's work, Falling Figure With Bird, also with an estimated value of $800,000-1,000,000, fetched the second highest with a final bid of $1,248,000.

The auctions closed with a final value of $13.6 million, topping the $12 million just six months earlier. However, two forthcoming auctions, could aim for the highest collections in any single auction, particularly Christie's which has a very robust collection of modernists, especially FN Souzas.

In an auction that included works by modernists from Jamini Roy to MF Hussain, prices zoomed on the art index. But a Bodhi Art spokesperson said the frenzy seems to be more subdued, and consolidation is becoming apparent.

"It is clear that good works are fetching higher than price estimates," he said, "while weaker works have sold within their estimates."

He also said the total appetite for Indian art was reaching saturation; as a result dealers were able to go bargain hunting for works that were more accessible to them.

While Jamini Roy's fetched a feeble $21,600, Hussain's highest (from a large body of works in the auction) scaled at 168,000 for two of his works, one labelled Procession, the other Untitled.

Other peaks were K K Hebbar at $45,000, F N Souza at $508,000, Ramkumar at $542,000, Akbar Padamsee at $307,200, and Anjolie Ela Menon settling at a modest $66,000.

Nor were the contemporaries languishing. Echoing a recent online auction conducted by Saffronart, the Dodiya couple ranked highest with their paintings.

Atul Dodiya continued to be the flagbearer with his work, My Home in Angkor, fetching $192,000, with Anju Dodiya's The Churning at $108,000.

Among other contemporaries, Chittrovanu Mazumdar fetched $72,000 at the hammer, Subodh Gupta picked up $51,000, Jittish Kallat and spouse Reena Saini Kallat got $42,000 and $39,000 at the gavel, Paresh Maity mustered up $33,000, while Rekha Rodwittiya bettered her Saffronart hiccup with $36,000. Jagannath Panda, doing particularly well among very young contemporaries, could manage only $6,600 at the Sotheby's auction.

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Kishore Singh in New Delhi
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