For the first time, an Indian auction house is putting up the works of masters such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí under the hammer. The 73 works, to be auctioned online on February 15-16 at Saffronart.com, are expected to fetch Rs 17-22 crore.
Comparably, the total value of the thousands of artworks — most of them by contemporary artists — exhibited at the recently concluded India Art Fair was Rs 50-70 crore.
It’s the first time an Indian auction house is focusing solely on European masters from the mid-19th to mid-20th century.
Forty-four of the works are on show at Saffronart’s Delhi gallery at The Oberoi till Sunday, February 5, after which they will be put up at the auctioneer’s Mumbai gallery till the hammer comes down on them.
Apart from Picasso, van Gogh and Dalí, the focus on Impressionists such as Camille Pissarro, post-Impressionists such as Marc Chagall and Modernists such as Henry Moore is deliberate.
Nish Bhutani, COO of Saffronart, told HT: “These are names any well-travelled Indian would know.” The focus is important because though Saffronart is an online auctioneer — meaning its works can be bought from anywhere in the world — about four-fifths of its buyers are of the Indian origin.
Bhutani, who indicated that he has received pre-auction bids for some of the works, said that he wanted to attract a new younger clientele apart from the known collectors.
Notably, there are only three works priced below a lakh: a couple of lithographs by Joan Miro and an etching-and-aquatint by Henry Moore.