Govt yet to take a decision on Tagore paintings | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Govt yet to take a decision on Tagore paintings

delhi Updated: May 31, 2010 20:47 IST

With just 15 days left for the auction at the Sotheby's in which 12 of Rabindranath Tagore's paintings are slated to go under the hammer, the government is yet to take a decision on what course to adopt on the issue.

The issue of auction of the Nobel laureate's paintings in London was highlighted by art lovers and Tagore's followers recently who asked the government to intervene in the matter.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had over 10 days back assured that the government will look into the issue of bringing back Gurudev's paintings.

Singh had spoken on the issue after West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wrote to him requesting him to take measures to bring the paintings back to India.

"No decision has been taken on this matter as yet," a Culture Ministry official said when asked if any movement had been made on the issue.

Twelve paintings of Tagore will go the hammer at Sotheby's on June 15.

The paintings belong to the Dartington Hall estate in London's South Devon and have a combined pre-sale estimate of 250,000 pounds. Tagore visited Dartington a number of times.

After the news of the auction broke, there was a clamour from several quarters, particularly from the world of art, that the paintings should be brought back.

Officials of the Culture Ministry had earlier said that the issue was under consideration.

Singh, who chaired the first meeting of National Committee for Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Tagore this month, had said the government will surely examine the issue of bringing back the rare paintings, but had at the same time added that the government did not have legal rights over them.

Last year, the government had failed to prevent the auction of Mahatma Gandhi's personal belongings, including his iconic round glasses, at an auction house in New York.

Despite the Delhi High Court ordering a stay on the auction and a massive diplomatic effort, five of Gandhi's personal belongings went under the hammer at Antiquorum Auctioneers in March, 2009. The articles were then bought by business tycoon Vijay Mallya.

The auction of Tagore's paintings comes at a time when the government is planning to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore in a big way. The Prime Minister has appointed two committees to consider policies and lay down guidelines for the celebrations. Singh himself heads one of the committees.