Osian's auction of modern and contemporary masters on June 30 in Mumbai fetched the highest average lot per price of any auction of Indian works this summer. At Rs 59 lakh, it bested Christie's Rs 39 lakh, Sotheby's Rs 24 lakh and Saffronart's Rs 17 lakh.
But the good news is that the consolidation of prices that began at this summer's auction has just been reinforced with an Untitled work by V S Gaitonde selling for Rs 3.12 crore (just under Christie's Rs 3.14 crore for an F N Souza work at Sotheby's, but way above the almost Rs 1.5 crore that Gaitonde commanded at the Saffronart auction).
Though the number of lots sold (51 per cent) was the least among the auction houses this summer (70 per cent on average), the Rs 17.22 crore auction fetched some more high prices. Another Gaitonde was sold for Rs 1.8 crore, while a Manjit Bawa Untitled work fetched Rs 1.6 crore. Works by Souza and Atul Dodiya managed bids at Rs 96 lakh and Rs 86 lakh, respectively.
Issues of liquidity have concerned the art fraternity since August 2008, but the mood has turned optimistic since June 2009, and quality works have begun to realise better values.
Osian's Neville Tuli estimates the market could take nine to 15 months to recover fully, but signs of a hastening of interest in works of masters has led to crisper prices than many punters expected.