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Anil Ambani's art collection under Christie's hammer

Last updated on: May 07, 2008 14:17 IST

Billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani's wife Tina Ambani is seeking to raise over 1,00,000 pounds (Rs 81 crore) for her Harmony Art Foundation by selling a dozen art works at Christie's, which is also exhibiting 32 works from the Ambani family's private collection.

The global auction powerhouse said in a statement that starting from Wednesday, Christie's London would exhibit 32 works from Tina and Anil Ambani's private collection, which are being put in public view for the first time.

These include works by M F Husain, Tyeb Mehta and S H Raza and the exhibition would continue till June 10.

Coinciding with the exhibition, Christie's would also hold an auction for 12 works being offered by the Harmony Art Foundation, of which Tina Ambani is the founder and patron, in association with Barclays Wealth on June 11.

The auction is estimated to fetch in excess of 1,00,000 pounds and the proceeds would go towards future activities of the Foundation.

The works on auction include M F Husain's Untitled (estimated worth of 12,000-18,000 pounds), Francis Newton Souza's Untitled, 1956 (estimated worth 15,000-20,000 pounds) and Navjot Altaf's powerful sculpture December 15th, 2000 (estimate of 18,000-20,000 pounds).

"This collection has evolved naturally from a desire to seek beauty and creativity in myriad forms and promote emerging talent in India. It gives us both enormous personal pleasure and pride to share this collection with art cognoscenti and connoisseurs. We hope this evokes a greater interest in Indian art -- its diversity and virtuosity," Tina and Anil Ambani said in a statement about their private collection being exhibited at Christie's.

About the exhibition, Christie's said, "This exhibition provides a fascinating reflection of the discerning eye and strong, visionary tastes of its renowned owners."

"The definitive aesthetic vision and deep-rooted philanthropy of Anil Ambani, who is arguably corporate India's most recognised and internationally acclaimed businessman and his wife Tina Ambani, a successful Bollywood actor prior to her marriage, have combined to form this superlative art collection that represents their support and commitment to art practice in India today," it noted.

The collection also includes M F Husain's Untitled, 1970 and a rare work Prophet, 1954, and Tyeb Mehta's graphic image, Bull on Rickshaw, 1999, which shows artist's post-cubist style with minimal lines and opaque masses of colour to create single dominating forms.

Tina Ambani founded Harmony Art Foundation in 1995 as a non-profit platform for emerging artists in the subcontinent. "Going forward, the foundation aims to hold more events and workshops and work with museums and private collectors in India and across the world. The collaboration between Christie's, Barclays Wealth and Harmony Art Foundation to sell these 12 works and raise funds will enable the foundation achieve its mandate," Tina Ambani said.

India's unprecedented rise on the global economic stage is being mirrored in the world of art, Barclays Wealth's International Banking Head Gerard Aquilina said, adding that a recent company report 'Evolving Fortunes' found there would be 4,11,000 households with over $ 1 million of wealth in India by 2017, from almost none in 2008.

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