Record price for Raza

S. H. Raza's "Bindu Bija - Mantra" Acrylic on canvas 47 x 47 in (119.4 x 119.4 cm), scaled new price peak in Indian contemporary art with its winning value (inclusive of Buyers Premium 7.5%) of $158,025 (Rs.6,795,075) at the Saffronart summer online auction (May 4-6, 2004).

It thus became the most expensive single painting to be sold in a public auction. The winning bid overtook the bid for Tyeb Mehta's triptych Celebration in terms of price per square inch. Though the latter went for Rs 1.6 crore in 2002, it was a much larger work in three pieces. S. H. Raza is identified with the study of the Bindu (the dot), which he sees as the "point of departure, concentration, energy and life condensed. It's only apt that his "Bindu Bija - Mantra" set a new price mark in Indian contemporary art.

The veteran artist who is always enthusiastic about sharing the platform with a new generation is obviously elated. Responding to congratulatory calls at his Paris studio in Gorbio after his "Bindu Bija - Mantra" set a new record, the painter expressed happiness. But he is happier about the fact that Indian contemporary art is finally coming of age than reaching personal milestones.

It's a fact that the prices of contemporary Indian art have appreciated. Coupled with growing awareness and interest about Indian art, this upward push in prices augurs well for contemporary Indian art. In the beginning of the year 2004, Indian art cracked million-dollar barrier. The big news as the year 2003 drew to close and 2004 dawned was a record price of $1million that 22 small and medium paintings by Maqbool Fida Husain fetched.

The record price was reached at a private sale of these Husain paintings, part of the Paris Suite unveiled to mark the maestro's 88th birthday. A London-based NRI, who chose to remain anonymous, reportedly went for it. The price for the Paris Suite comfortably overwhelmed the earlier record price fetched by a painting from the Times of India art collection, Tyeb Mehta's triptych 'Celebration.' The latter went under the hammer for $317,500, the highest amount ever for an Indian artist's work in 2002 at that point. In September 2003 a late Bhupen Khakhar work titled 'In a Boat' (172.5cm X 173cm) fetched $63,725. Now, Raza's "Bindu Bija - Mantra", as stated above, has set a new mark in terms of price per square inch.

The Saffronart Online Auction also has received a tremendous amount of media attention and has been recognized as the most successful auction of contemporary Indian art. It managed to sell work of art valued over Rs 70 million of art over the Internet in a space of three days. Even as Raza's "Bindu" sold for an astounding $158,025, winning value (inclusive of Buyers Premium 7.5%) for another of his works "Nagas" 2003, Acrylic on canvas 12 x 12 in (30.5 x 30.5 cm), was $9,406 (Rs.404,469). His "La Source" 1960, Acrylic on canvas 29 x 19 in (73.7 x 48.3 cm), went for $22,500 (Rs.967,489).

An untitled work by M. F. Husain Circa 1970s, Oil on board 48 x 48 in (121.9 x 121.9 cm), drew $68,800 (Rs.2,958,400). Winning value for Sakti Burman's "Flight to Egypt" 2002, Oil on canvas 46 x 36 in (116.8 x 91.4 cm) was $25,263 (Rs.1,086,288). Another work that grabbed the spotlight was F. N. Souza's "Samurai" 1963, Oil on canvas 66.5 x 44 in (168.9 x 111.8 cm) that went for $142,855 (Rs.6,142,748), creating a new price benchmark for this late legendary painter's early works. Winning value for Akbar Padamsee's work titled "Head" 2001, Oil on canvas 28 x 42 in (71.1 x 106.7 cm), was $22,038 (Rs.947,613). Jagdish Swaminathan's untitled Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in (76.2 x 101.6 cm), fetched $45,741 (Rs.1,966,874).

Internationally too, the art market witnessed a new high. The sale of a 1905 Picasso 'Boy with the Pipe' created a new price record, breaking the $100m barrier, and becoming the most expensive painting ever sold at a record-breaking $104.1 million. One of Pablo Picasso's early masterpieces. "Garcon a la pipe" ("Boy with a Pipe"), fetched the record price at the Sotheby's art auction in New York. The buyer was a Japanese who wished to remain anonymous. Apart from the Saffronart summer online auction (May 4-6, 2004), the recent sale of contemporary Indian art in Hong Kong found buyers for 24 of the 26 pieces with the works of big league artists like M.F. Husain, Akbar Padamsee, N.S. Bendre and Ram Kumar fetching higher prices.

S. H. Raza's Bindu Bija - Mantra

Saffronart summer online auction (May 4-6, 2004) results

View S. H. Raza's catalogue

view all articles