NEW YORK—Saffronart’s online sale of modern and contemporary Indian art March 10–11 realized a total of $4.6million for the 100 works on offer, hitting the higher end of the $3.6million/4.6million overall estimate. A total of 75 works found buyers in the recent sale, as compared with the 78 out of 100 lots sold in Saffronart’s previous sale, last December (ANL, 12/29/09). The sale volume and sell-through rates were nearly identical to the numbers achieved in December. Saffronart officials reported that 45, or 60 percent, of the works sold went for prices that exceeded their high estimates. The top lot was an untitled ca. 1970s painting by Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915) depicting four wild horses, one ridden by a blue nude woman. The work sold for $448,500, well above the estimate of $200,000/266,670. The second-highest price of the sale was the $391,000 paid for Subodh Gupta’s Doot, 2003, a 66-by-90-inch photorealist painting of a car known as the Ambassador, the official car of the Indian civil service, according to the catalogue (estimate: $180,000/240,000).
Decomposing Head, 1956, a portrait of a tortured saint by Francis Newton Souza (1924–2002) from his series of “Head” paintings, sold for $350,750 against an estimate of $200,000/250,000. Another work by Souza among the top-selling lots was Gothic Head, 1957, which sold for $195,500, near the high end of the $150,000/200,000 estimate. According to the auction catalogue, “Souza’s series of heads from the 1950s are probably his most important and well-known figurative works. In addition to exploring the nuances of figuration, these portraits served as channels for the artist’s scathing social commentary.”
Prophet, 1953, an oil on canvas by Akbar Padamsee, sold for $278,875, more than triple the $60,000/80,000 estimate, and an untitled 1968 abstract painting by Ram Kumar sold for $175,375 on a $150,000/175,000 estimate.