23rd May 2005

Saffronart equals Christie's record for Indian art
Hits Sales Of Rs 156 Cr, Tyeb Mehta's Kali Fetches Highest Price LEADING domestic art auctioneer Saffronart has equalled Christie's in its May '05 auction of Indian contemporary art. Saffronart has swung sales of Rs16 crore, translating to $3.7m. This is the same record level touched by Christie's for Indian contemporary art at its March '05 sale. Given that 145 lots of works were put up for bids, the average per lot auction price achieved by Saffronart has turned out to be $26,000, which outstrips the pre-sale average of $12,000 by miles. Significantly, the entire spread of 145 lots has been lapped up by bidders. Tyeb Mehta's Kali has struck the highest price of Rs 1 crore at the auction, which in dollar terms has pegged the canvas at $236,500. This is the second occasion that a contemporary painting has crossed a crore. The earlier instance of such a performance was when SH Raza's Rajputana sold for around $227,000 at Christie's '04 sale in New York.

The other interesting aspect of the Tyeb Mehta auction result is that it is a world record value for a single work by the artist. Other top-end artists who have also scaled record prices for their works are Bikash Bhattacharjee who seen a price of Rs 24 lakh for his 1960s painting Cityscape.

"The other record is an untitled by SH Raza, measuring four by four feet, which has gone for Rs 57 lakh. This is the highest price ever for a Raza paperwork. That more or less sums up the record values, but we have had some other major highlights. 88% of the works went above their higher estimates," Mr Dinesh Vazirani, director of Saffronart, told

Among the works which stand out on the price front are FN Souza's Remark which was picked up for Rs 66 lakh, Raza's Prakriti which sold at Rs 56 lakh, an untitled Hussain that fetched Rs 40 lakh and another Hussain from his Paris Suite series which sold for Rs 47 lakh.

In the same breath,according to Mr Vazirani,the young, emerging Indian artists have set records "across the board".

Here's a sample : Chitravanu Mazurmdar is pegged at Rs 22 lakh. Atul Dodiva Rs 21 lakh, Baiju Parthan Rs 11 lakh, Subodh Gupta Rs 10 lakh, Jitish Kallat Rs 11 lakh and Jagannath Panda Rs 12 lakh. Keeping them company are GR Irana with a tag of Rs 7 lakh, TV Santosh at Rs 6.6 lakh and Nataraj Sharma at Rs6.4lakh.

The Saffronart sale saw 175 bidders spread acrossIndia, the US, the UK, UAE, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Oman, Singa- pore, Taiwan and France.

While 26% of them were non-Indians, there were 34% NRIs and 40% Indians.
"The auction did so well because both Indians and non-Indians have developed a belief in the inherent value of Indian art. Besides, the market is growing with an increasing number of people getting interested in Indian art. Prices are also climbing with demand for works by both top-end and younger artists far outstripping supply. Indians around the world are also keen to put their wealth in the country's heritage. "The recent Saffronart auction took a step-jump because of all these factors, "Mr Vazirani said. ASHOKE NAG / KOLKATA

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