Gouri Sahni, a Delhi based artist, is in the news, but not because of any upcoming show or auction. The 37-year-old artist is making the news for her painting that got stolen from her studio last week. “My studio was under renovation and after the completion of the work, I could not find the painting there. I was shocked, as this painting was in demand lately and I was looking forward to sell it,” says Sahni.
The painting, titled, Metamorphosis of Earth, was made by the artist in the year 2009 and was priced at Rs16 lakh. Sahni says that after the incident, she has learned a lesson and is going to make sure that she has proper security at her studio. “Earlier, I just had a guard at the studio, but now, I am going to put CCTV cameras, besides other measures, in order to have footage of everything that’s happening around.”
As Sahni updates the security at her studio, we ask art galleries in the cit as to what security measures they take for safeguarding their art pieces.
Alakananda Saha of Gallery Montage Arts says, “With such expensive art pieces, security can be a problem. As a result, we have a trained team of security guards employed here. We usually don’t keep valuable paintings in the gallery.”
Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) in Hauz Khas also stores very expensive artwork, ranging from Rs10 crore to Rs20 crore or even higher. “We have several tiers as part of our security set-up. There is a strong contingent of security staff to prevent thefts or other untoward incidents,” says Kishore Singh of DAG. “We sometimes engage additional security (bouncers, for instance). One such occasion was at the 3rd India Art Summit — mainly to safeguard artist M F Husain’s works,” adds Singh.
According to Sunaina Anand of Art Alive, “It’s very important to have a fool-proof security system in place. We too have a very high-end security system that keeps a track on every movement. The gallery is guarded by special cameras all over and a strong monitoring system.”
International art thefts
On May 20, 2010, the Museum of Modern Art, Paris, reported a theft of five paintings from its collection. The stolen art pieces were works of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, George Braque, Amedeo Modigliani and Fernand Léger. The paintings were valued at $123 million.
On June 12, 2008, three armed men broke into the Pinacoteca do Estado Museum, Brazil and stole two paintings by Pablo Picasso. It was the second theft in six months.
On February 11, 2008, four major impressionist
paintings were stolen from the Foundation E.G. Bührle in Zürich, Switzerland. The art pieces were valued at $123 million.