This year’s first major live auction, Saffronart’s modern art sale held in Mumbai on Thursday, made Rs33.59 crore in total sales and saw 86% of its 78 lots snapped up.
While paintings of some biggies were unsold, works by artists who do not regularly feature on auction catalogues did quite well.
Such works included AA Raiba’s Crucifixion, which sold for Rs 15.6 lakh (all prices are after buyer’s premium and taxes); a painting by Madhav Satwalkar estimated at Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh that sold for Rs 14.40 lakh; and artist KH Ara’s Juhu, which had a similar estimate but also sold for Rs 13.20 lakh.
The highest price at the auction was fetched by the late Tyeb Mehta’s Falling Figure (1965), an oil on canvas that went for Rs 6 crore.
At number two was Akbar Padamsee’s untitled diptych (2016), sold for Rs 3.6 crore. And at number 3 was VS Gaitonde’s Portrait of Bhanu Raja Padhya (1952) sold for Rs 3 crore.
“It was a deliberate effort to broaden the spectrum and introduce works of many other talented Modernists and not just focus on a handful of masters,” said Hugo Weihe, CEO of Saffronart. “By doing so we are trying to generate a new interest and attract new buyers.”
Among the unsold works were three paintings by MF Husain and one each by FN Souza, Jamini Roy, Akbar Padamsee, Anjolie Ela Menon, Sakti Burman, Ram Kumar, Manjit Bawa and Somnath Hore.
“It was nice to see works of artists not regularly seen on the auction scene. I think people are tired of seeing the same kind of work by those five to six Modern masters,” said a collector who did not wish to be named.