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Modern Works Lead At Saffronart Indian Sale

Auctioneer Saffronart's winter online auction of modern and contemporary Indian art and photography on Dec. 10–11 brought in a total of $2.9 million.

NEW YORK—Auctioneer Saffronart’s winter online auction of modern and contemporary Indian art and photography on Dec. 10–11 brought in a total of $2.9million. Of 115 works on offer, 72, or 63 percent, were sold; of these, 31 lots sold above estimate, according to the auction house.

The top price of the sale, $283,199, was paid for Subodh Gupta’s untitled 2005 oil depicting an airport luggage cart piled with suitcases and bags, part of his series of paintings and installations focusing on travel, “particularly on the luggage that travelers carry,” according to the catalogue. The price was near the low end of the $260,420/364,585 estimate.

Another work by Gupta, an untitled 2006 painting depicting the dilapidated interior of an old store with stacks of brass pots, brought $230,000, below the $250,000 low estimate. A colorful untitled landscape, 1996, by Akbar Padamsee sold for $276,479, far above the $146,00/188,000 estimate, and a large untitled 1974 painting by Jagdish Swaminathan brought $250,700, also clearing its high estimate of $220,000.

Saffronart founder and CEO Dinesh Vazirani said, “It is interesting to see that Indian art has come full circle, and that there is renewed interest in modern Indian masterpieces from collectors across the world.” Vazirani noted that eight of the top ten lots were modern paintings.

According to the auction house, the sale drew more than 740 registered bidders from 35 countries. Contemporary Indian photography also fared well, with records—albeit relatively modest ones—set for nine photographers, including Dayanita Singh (b. 1961), whose Gandhi’s Room, Anand Bhavan, Allahabad, 2000, a black-and-white image of an empty bedroom with a portrait of Mohandas Gandhi on the wall, sold for $14,663, bettering the $12,500 high estimate. Another artist record was the $4,468 given for the color print Somewhere in Ladakh, 1998 (estimate: $2,605/3,650), the first from an edition of ten by Raghu Rai (b. 1942).

Arpita Singh’s painting Couple Having Tea, 1992, took in $184,000, just clearing the $180,000 high estimate. Also among the top lots were an untitled 1965 abstract painting by V.S. Gaitonde, which sold below the $250,000/350,000 estimate for $235,750; an untitled 1977 abstract painting by Syed Haider Raza, which took $92,000 (estimate: $80,000/100,000); and an untitled 2000 landscape by Ram Kumar, which sold for $87,929, well above the $52,085/62,500 estimate.

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