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Is the Rs 100 crore art fair safe?

9,000 priceless artworks at the India Art Summit. The question on everyone’s mind: is the Rs 100 crore art fair safe?

art and culture Updated: Jan 20, 2011 01:43 IST
Soumya Mukerji

Sixty thousand visitors, 570 artists and 84 participating galleries from all over the world — this year’s India Art Summit in Delhi is of an unprecedented magnitude. But, are the artworks safe?

With an estimated ratio of one guard for every 30 artworks, exhibitors, especially foreign galleries, wonder if the security at the fair, to be held from January 21-23 at Pragati Maidan, matches up to its humungous scale.

“The security has to be very strong. This time’s fair will set an example of how well India can handle big art. I hope that security is not a letdown. Of course, artworks aren’t like gold — they aren’t easy to re-sell illegally, but overall security matters,” says artist Alka Raghuvanshi.

It may be recalled that just last month, New York witnessed a $1 million art heist, in which iconic artworks by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol were stolen.

The Art Summit organisers, however, sound confident of security arrangements. “Apart from Pragati Maidan’s resident security, we are seeking help from private agencies and the Delhi Police, so international galleries need not worry,” says Vikram Sahgal, GM (Security), ITPO. Additional DCP, VA Gupta says, “There’s a three-tier security system to guard the outer area, check unauthorised access and guard galleries through CCTVs and cops who will work 24/7.”

“Stealing an artwork is out of question. Manhandling and defacing of works maybe a potential threat, but most visitors are well-behaved,” says Bhavna Kakar of Latitude 28, a participating gallery. Others, however, are not taking chances. “We have our own people to man our booth both in the day and at night,” says Sunaina Anand of the Art Alive gallery.

Art that costs
Artists whose works top the price chart at the fair
Anish Kapoor (Rs 3 crore)
FN Souza (Rs 1.5 - 2.5 crore)
SH Raza (Rs 1.5 -2.5crore)