17th March, 2008

Online auction of contemporary Indian art fetches $7.15 mn
An online auction of Indian contemporary art, first in 2008, reported a sale of over $7.15 million (Rs 286 million) against a target of $5.1 million.

The event, which closed on the weekend, set a world auction record for 21 most sought-after artists, painters, sculptors and installation artists. These included Surendran Nair, Subodh Gupta, Atul Dodiya, Shilpa Gupta, Anju Dodiya, Bharti Kher, T.V. Santhosh, Shibu Natesan, Baiju Parthan and Jagannath Panda.

Organized by Mumbai-based Safronarts, the online auction within the first hour saw several of the lots crossing their higher estimates. The first was Surendran Nair's canvas featured on the cover of the catalogue. Following that lot 80, a Subodh Gupta canvas sailed past the $263,000 estimate.

The top five lots of this sale were Surendran Nair's "Doctrine of the Forest: An Actor at Play (Cuckoonebulopolis)", which was sold for $558,969; Subodh Gupta's untitled ($477,250); his another work "Let Me Make My Damn Art" ($437,000); Jagannath Panda's untitled ($353,625) and Shibu Natesan's "Each One Teach One" ($281,448).

Works by artists Shilpa Gupta and Dhananjay Singh, both featuring for the first time at the auction, saw an intense round of bidding. The works recorded an average of 25 bids and closed well above their higher estimates. Pakistani artists Rashid Rana and Nusra Latif Qureshi were also popular, with Rana selling at $55,200, more than three times its higher estimate.

Over 550 registered bidders from all over the world competed against one another. There was a strong Indian base of collectors. Twenty-five percent of the bidders were non-Indians, highlighting the high level of international interest in contemporary Indian art.

Dinesh Vazirani, co-founder and director of Saffronart, said: "We were pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming response we saw. The results have reinforced our belief that the blending of global and local contexts that characterizes Contemporary Indian helps it transcend geographical barriers and appeal to an international audience of collectors."

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