Christie’s First Auction in India Breaks Records for Local Artists


Demonstrating the robust demand for Indian art, Christie’s first auction in India almost doubled its high estimate of $8 million to bring in $15.4 million, or 965.9 million rupees, selling nearly all the works on offer and breaking a number of records for Indian artists.

Among the records broken at the sale, which was held at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai on Thursday night, was an untitled 1979 work by Vasudeo S. Gaitonde. It went for $3.7 million, or 237 million rupees, which was the highest price for any Indian artwork ever sold, said Dinesh Vazirani, co-founder of Saffron Art. The previous record for an Indian artwork had been set in 2010, when Syed Haider Raza’s “Saurashtra,” sold for $3.5 million at Christie’s in London.

The price for Mr. Gaitonde’s work far exceeded Christie’s 65 million to 85 million rupee estimate. (All sale prices include the buyer’s premium, while estimates, which were listed in rupees, do not.)

Also surpassing Christie’s expectations on Thursday night was Tyeb Mehta’s “Mahishasura,” which sold for $1.9 million, or 197 million rupees, well over the auction house’s estimate of 75 million to 95 million rupees.

“It’s a historic night, and about time,” said Amol Vadehra, an art dealer based in Delhi and owner of Vadehra Fine Arts. “Indians have really supported the sale and welcomed it with a bang.”

An extra room had to be added to handle the crowd overflowing from the packed sales room. Attendees included well-known collectors like Harsh Goenka of RPG Enterprises and Sangita Jindal of the JSW Steel family, although many successful bids were done over the more than 20 open phone lines. Christie’s said buyers were from India, Asia, Europe and the United States….

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