History was made at Thursday’s Christie’s auction in Mumbai, the first conducted by the international auction house in India.
The event saw 83 lots go under the hammer — and created history by breaking the record for the highest price paid for an Indian painting bought in Indian currency.
That distinction went to an untitled 1979 work by artist VS Gaitonde, in golden hues, which sold on Friday for a staggering Rs 20.5 crore, a massive hike from its reserve price of Rs 8.5 crore.
Also on the block was Tyeb Mehta’s iconic Mahishasura, a 1994 work with a reserve price of Rs 9.5 crore that sold for Rs 17 crore.
Both these lots broke the existing record held by SH Raza’s Saurashtra, sold in 2010 for about Rs 16.42 crore by Christie’s, said Dinesh Vazirani, founder of India’s Saffronart auction house.
While most lots were sold above the upper estimates, a few works that did exceedingly well were artist Ganesh Pyne’s untitled work, which had a reserve price of Rs 25 lakh and sold for Rs 1.8 crore.
An untitled painting by Arpita Singh, created in 1996, was put up with a reserve price of Rs 30 lakh and sold for Rs 72 lakh.
Paintings that did not fare well were works by Bengal masters such as Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose and Abanindrantah Tagore. A 1936 Rabindranath work, estimated to fetch Rs 2.5 crore, fetched Rs 2.4 crore.
The auction — held at the city’s iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel and still underway at the time of going to the press — was packed with collectors, many of them standing in the aisles.