9th May 2004

Online Indian Art Auction fetches record Rs 7 cr in 3 days
An Indian auction house of art works has closed the first half of the 2004 auction season with a sale of almost Rs 7.2 crore (almost 1.7 million dollars), thus doing better business than established western art houses like Christies or Sothebys.

Over 80 per cent of the art exhibits with Saffronart action were sold out, crossing the higher price estimate and just over a quarter of the lots that sold exceeded the higher price estimate by at least 50 per cent. In comparison to the sales figures of Saffronart in May, the figure for Christies in March was Rs 5.01 crore (1.15 million dollars) and for Sothebys was Rs 3 crore (690,000 dollars).

Some of the art works auction set world price records, especially the S H Raza works, with the sale of 'Bindu Bija Mantra' selling for over Rs 67.9 lakh (approximately 158,000 dollars) -- the highest price ever paid for Raza's work in a public auction. The sale also saw a record price for Jagdish Swaminathan's bird and mountain series work, Lot 55, which sold for almost Rs 20 lakh (over 45,000 dollars).

The cover work for this sale's catalogue, a 1963 'Samurai' by F N Souza, sold for over Rs 61.4 lakh (almost 143,000 dollars), creating a new price benchmark for Souza's early works. Lot 43, a 1960s head, also by Souza, sold for just over Rs 32.5 lakh (over 75,000 dollars). Lot 15, a work from M F Husain's 1970s Raagamala series, followed closely, selling at over Rs 29.5 lakh (over 68,000 dollars). Husain's horses, lot 8, sold for Rs 28.2 lakh (over 65,000 dollars).

Other artistes fared just as well. Arpita Singh, whose work on paper sold for over Rs 4 lakh, Baiju Parthan's large canvas sold for almost Rs 4 lakh, and T V Santosh'a work sold for over Rs 1.38 lakh, almost double its higher price estimate. Other artists whose works were sold include Paritosh Sen, N S Bendre, Ram Kumar, Jehangir Sabavala, Akbar Padamsee, J Swaminathan, Badri Narayan, Ganesh Pyne, and Anjolie Ela Menon.

Almost 150 active bidders from over 15 countries jumped into the unprecedented bidding frenzy. The next online sale will be in December 2004.

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