Delhi is now firmly on the world art map with auctioneer Sotheby's deciding to provoke buyer interest in India's capital for its future London auctions.
A step in this direction is Sotheby's putting up a pre-auction show of select works of famous artist and sculptor Damien Hirst at Delhi's Oberoi Hotel next Thursday.
Next month's London auction of his works is already making waves after Hirst decided to offer 223 new works directly to the public, bypassing the artist's usual dealer and gallery. The works are estimated to be worth more than £65 million.
Usually, highlights of prominent London sales are taken to traditional art market centres such as New York or Paris to stimulate overseas interest.
Sotheby's said the number of Indian buyers at its auctions had doubled between 2004 and the end of last year, and that about one third of those buyers were new to the auction house. Fourteen works of Hirst will go on display in Delhi to attract new buyers from the Indian sub-continent.
Oliver Barker, senior international specialist in contemporary art at Sotheby's, described the move as an "educational experience" for the auction house.
He said that interest in contemporary art in India had grown massively in recent years, largely thanks to the success of the country's own artists, such as Raqib Shaw and Subodh Gupta.
A work by Shaw, "Garden of Earthly Delights III", sold for £2.7m last October, a record for any Indian work of art at auction.
"Collectors in India are very much trying to find ways into western art," said Barker in the Financial Times. "In many ways, this is the most important exhibition by a non-Indian artist (Hirst) to be held in India."
He said that the works that were travelling to Delhi did not include Hirst's signature formaldehyde sculptures and had been selected to appeal to Indian tastes. They included his butterfly paintings, spin paintings, spot canvases and decorative pieces with diamonds.