S H Raza’s Haut de Cagnes sets world record at Mumbai auction

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When it comes to Indian art’s maestros, Raza rules. As was proved yet again this Tuesday when his artwork on paper sold at the Saffronart auction for a thumping Rs 5.75 crore, creating a new world record.

The auctioneers claimed that this auction of modern Indian masters grossed a total of Rs 30.32 crore in all. The bidding for two back to back auctions was conducted in an auction room, online and over telephone, for six hours at a premier Mumbai hotel.

“A surge in excitement was palpable as SH Raza’s Haut De Cagnes, the highlight of the evening sale, appeared on the screens. Competitive bidding between room and phone bidders drove it to a value of Rs 5.75 crores ($9.42 million), a world record for an Indian artwork on paper,” a communique from the auctioneers said.

While ALIVE, the contemporary day sale, grossed Rs 5.37 crore ($881,000) against a total pre-sale lower estimate of Rs 3.47 crore ($520,000), the modern evening sale realised a total of Rs 30.32 crore ($4.97 million) against a total pre-sale lower estimate of Rs 23.14 crore ($3.79 million).

Large Head, a four and-a-half foot sculpture by G Ravinder Reddy depicting the contemporary Indian woman in the artist's signature style, sold for Rs 96 lakh ($157,377), more than doubling its lower estimate of Rs 40-60 lakh ($65,575-$98,365).

Shibu Natesan’s The Dancer was estimated at Rs 9-12 lakh, and ultimately sold for Rs 26.4 lakh ($ 43,279), nearly three times the lower estimate. And an untitled water-colour on paper by Manjit Bawa that generated great interest among the bidders was eventually sold at Rs 66 lakh ($ 108,197), more than four times the lower estimate.

Dinesh Vazirani, co-founder and chief executive officer of Saffronart, which operates out of Mumbai, Delhi, London and New York, said: “Energetic bidding in our live auctions resulted in the majority of works selling above their higher estimates, reinforcing the recent trend of demand in the Indian art market.”

A spokesperson at Christie’s had recently told Financial Chronicle that there was a growing demand for Indian paintings and sculpture in the global art market. At Christie’s, alone, the annual auction totals for modern and contemporary Indian art witnessed a phenomenal growth increasing from approximately $600,000 ($0.6 million) in the year 2000 to over $25 million in 2012. Works by some of India’s modern and contemporary artists crossed the one million dollar mark at auction.

Like Saffronart, Christie’s also admitted that there was a strong momentum in the domestic art marketplace, an increased international appeal of Indian art and the growing participation of Indian collectors across international sale categories. Significantly, Raza’s Saurashtra had fetched $3.5 million at Christie’s, London, in 2010.

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