05th Dec 2004

Saffronart sale outstrips Christie's on value chart
It's the tallest-ever sale of Indian contemporary art. Domestic art auction house Saffronart has swung in nearly $3m, translating to about Rs 13 crore, at its December '04 sale of paintings.

This outstrips the $2.4m that Christie's had touched at its September '04 sale in New York. Of course, Saffronart had put 145 lots on tap, while the Christie's spread encompassed 72 works.

'The sales have been tremendous. About 92% of the lots have been sold out. And, 70% of the total lots picked up have beaten the higher pre-sale estimate of the paintings. This surge of buying indicates that the demand revolving around Indian art is strong and continuously climbing,' Dinesh Vazirani, director, Saffronart told ET.

The auction has etched some world record prices for individual artists. Foremost among these is a Francis Newton Souza creation, titled The Red Moon, which clocked a final bid of Rs 83 lakh, which in dollar terms figures at $184,000. The pre-sale estimate for the piece was placed at Rs 22.5-27 lakh.

The last Souza high watermark was seen at the Sotheby's sale in New York in March '04, when the his work titled Mystic Repast, garnered up a price of $154,000 or around Rs 70 lakh.

Some other highlights of the sale include Krishen Khanna's Draupadi's Last Laugh, which was estimated at Rs 12-15 lakh and sold for Rs 30 lakh. Based on market assessments, this is the highest bid for a Krishen Khanna.

In step, Shakti Burman went for Rs 24 lakh, over its estimate of Rs 15-20 lakh, Husain's Cobalt Horse fetched Rs 39 lakh, crossing an estimate of Rs 22-26 lakh and a Jehangir Sabavala went for Rs 29.5 lakh, against the estimate of Rs 20-25 lakh.

The genext artists have also created a flutter. Baiju Parthan has fetched Rs 6.5 lakh, which is again a record tag for the artist, Chittravanu Majumdar Rs 7 lakh, close to thrice his estimate and Nataraj Sharma Rs 5.5 lakh, which is double the estimate.

In step, GR Irana has gone for Rs 3.9 lakh and TV Santosh Rs 2.35 lakh. But, Atul Dodiya stands out in this club with a thumping high of Rs 16 lakh, a clear record for him.

Paritosh Sen's Day in the Life of a Family has gone for Rs 8 lakh, the artist's highest, while Ram Kumar sold for Rs 32 lakh and a Gaitonde paperwork went for Rs 13 lakh.

'Together with Indians, the bidders, numbering around 200, cut across the board from countries like the US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, the Middle East, China and the UAE.

It clearly showed that the market for Indian art has deepened further. It was simply amazing to see the world coming together to buy such a large collection of high-quality Indian paintings,' Mr Vazirani said. ASHOKE NAG

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