The sale lot of 61 pieces of art, which was spread across a variety of categories such as modern and contemporary South Asian art, prints, and photographs, realised an estimated sale price of Rs 23.8 crore. Pre-auction estimates had expected the sale to range between Rs 37 crore and Rs 52 crore. Around 11 pieces of art remained unsold on Day One, reports Pavan Lall.
The ongoing economic slowdown hit the international auction house Sotheby’s second India auction, titled ‘Boundless: India’, which kicked off on Friday at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai with several pieces of art remaining unsold.
The sale lot of 61 pieces of art, which was spread across a variety of categories such as modern and contemporary South Asian art, prints, and photographs, realised an estimated sale price of Rs 23.8 crore. Pre-auction estimates had expected the sale to range between Rs 37 crore and Rs 52 crore. Around 11 pieces of art remained unsold on Day One.
The highlight of the evening was an untitled piece by V S Gaitonde and came from the estate of socialite and actress Sabira Merchant, who said that she had enjoyed the work for decades and had no regrets about now setting it free for others to enjoy. “The point of art after all is to share,” she added. The Gaitonde, which was expected to sell for around Rs 9 crore, remained unsold.
Two drawings from R K Laxman, the creator of The Common Man, were also included in the auction this year.
There were other paintings at the auction which included multiple works from the estate of artist Bhupen Khakhar, as well as paintings by Jehangir Sabavala, Francis Newton Souza, Amrita Sher-Gil, Sayed Haider Raza, a photograph created by Maqbool Fida Husain and more.
Last year’s ‘Boundless: India’, held at the same hotel, had got a medium response from art lovers, with paintings and other works selling for Rs 55 crore. The stars of that evening were Tyeb Mehta and Sher-Gil, whose paintings Durga Mahisasura Mardini and The Little Girl in Blue, respectively, fetched Rs 20 crore and Rs 18.6 crore.
Last year’s auction was watched closely by sector experts as it had come at a time when other major names such as Christie’s had pulled out of the country partly because of a lack of response.
So will Sotheby’s be conducting more Indian auctions as they go along? The Deputy Chairperson for Indian and South Asian Art at Sotheby’s, Yamini Mehta, said the idea is to grow organically and cater to demand as and when it arises. “We are open-minded to exploring more options in India for sale keeping in mind that we have a predominantly strong base in Europe and America.”
This time around, however, many works such as the Gaitonde had not been in the market ever before which had created an unexpected buzz, Mehta added.
Senior Indian artist Paresh Maity said, “It’s imperative such auctions happen with greater frequency and with more international houses because they also create an outward bound platform for showcasing Indian artists to the Western world.”