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Contemporary Indian Art Soars at Saffronart Online Auction

The market for Contemporary art from India showed significant strength in the Sept. 3–4 sale conducted by Mumbai- and New York–based online auctioneer Saffronart.

NEW YORK—The market for Contemporary art from India showed significant strength in the Sept. 3–4 sale conducted by Mumbai- and New York–based online auctioneer Saffronart.

The auction of 130 works (80 percent of which found buyers) earned $7.2 million, well above the auction house’s presale estimate of $4.2 million/5.3 million. Of the lots sold, 86 brought prices above their high estimates.

Topping the sale were two works by Subodh Gupta. Idol Thief I, a 2005 oil depicting steel pots hanging from a kitchen ceiling rack, sold for $1.1 million, far surpassing the estimate of $500,000/700,000. Saat Samundra Par (Across the Seven Seas), a 2004 oil of a tightly wrapped bundle, suitcases, and duffel bags on the roof rack of a car, sold for $850,000, also against a $500,000/700,000 estimate.

T. V. Santhosh’s When your Target Cries for Mercy, 2007, brought $701,500 (estimate: $125,000/150,000); Anju Dodiya’s acrylic-on-mattress The Site, 2005, earned $267,375 (estimate: $100,000/150,000); Sudhir Patwardhan’s The Clearing, 2007, fetched $232,875 (estimate: $125,000/150,000) and Jagannath Panda’s Home Grown, 2008, took $209,875 (estimate: $75,000/100,000). All prices include the buyer’s premium, which ranges from 12 to 16 percent, based on the hammer price. Record auction prices were set for Santhosh, Dodiya and Patwardhan.

Among other notable sales were Anita Dube’s Victor/Victoria, 2003, which had been estimated at $45,000/55,000 and earned $100,625, an artist record; G. R. Iranna’s Lessen for Blindness, 2007, which brought $181,125 (estimate: $45,000/55,000), also a record; and Jitish Kallat’s BND–Brand New Divinity, 1998, which yielded $169,625, more than double the estimate of $62,500/75,000.

Saffronart, which was founded by Minal and Dinesh Vazirani in 2000, generally holds two online auctions every year, one for modern art (1948–1980) and one for contemporary art (from 1980 to the present). A spokeswoman for Saf¬fronart noted that 45 percent of the buyers in this sale were non-Indian, the majority of these from the U.S., reflecting the “global appeal” of contemporary Indian art.

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