Indian art sale slumps at Sotheby’s


London : Indian art sale slumped at Sotheby's where more than 38 works were withdrawn in the 166 lots of contemporary art. Those works called off included the cover Gaitonde and the Tyeb Mehta as also Raza, Husain, Anjolie Ela Menon and others as the works went unsold.

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Lot 42, a 1956 Oil on board done by the late F.N.Souza, found the highest taker at 264,000 pounds. Only six works were able to muster past the 100,000-pound mark as works found no takers and the auction proved to be a market disaster in more ways than one.

Lot 44 was another Souza which was a landscape that fetched 216,000 pounds from an estimate of 180,000-220,000 pounds ($ 360,288-440,352). Lot 45 which was oil on board, and another cubist landscape by Souza estimated at 50,000-70,000 pound ($ 100,080- 140,112) sold for 102,000.

Lot 89 S.H.Raza's Red Bindu rose from an estimate of 40,000-60,000 pounds ($80,064-120,096) and sold for 108,000 pounds.

Anjolie Ela Menon's work was withdrawn. Ganesh Pyne's performed pathetically. Jogen Chowdhury's Nude did a mundane 24,000 pounds from an estimate 20,000-30,000 BP ($40,032- 60,048).

Lot 95, Bikash Bhattacharya's Red Balloon fetched 102,000 pounds from an estimate of 60,000-80,000 pounds ($ 120,096-160,128). The last work to cross the 100,000 pound mark was Lot 118, Rameshwar Broota's Unidentified Soldier which sold for 108,000 pounds from an estimate of 20,000-30,000 pounds ($40,032-60,048). Krishen Khanna's work Thou Sayest So just fell short of the 100,000-pound mark as it sold for 96,000 pounds.

According to dealers and buyers in the room, the sale was lacklustre and found no momentum, specially with the witdrawal of Gaitonde and Tyeb Mehta's works among many others.

The slump could be attributed to India's taxes on cash transactions, the capital tax and the income tax tightened in the financial budget of 2007.

The auction clearly reflected the importance of sustainability, taste, performance, criticality, and architecture of monetary networking amidst the atmospherics of the art market.