One of India's most expensive artist, Tyeb Mehta, has just bettered the record for the highest price fetched for a painting in the country.
An untitled work of his - an oil painting on a 59x47 inch canvas depicting a human figure - has been sold for Rs 7.19 crore ($1.5 million) in an auction conducted by Mumbai-based auction house Saffronart, making it the most expensive painting sold in India. The painting was part of Saffronart's Autumn Online Auction for 2011 that concluded on Thursday. The previous record for Mehta's most expensive painting sold in India was Rs 5.7 crore for Kali earlier this year.
Originally acquired from Mumbai's Gallery Chemould, the work was put up for auction by a private collector from the US. Though the auction house refused to reveal the identity of the buyer, Saffronart's CEO Dinesh Vazirani confirmed the sale. "This is a record price for a Tyeb Mehta work sold in India," he said. However, higher prices have been paid for the artist in overseas sales. "Mehta's untitled work, which depicts a rickshaw puller, was sold abroad for about $2.93 million," said Vazirani. In all, 70 works by eminent artists, including Jehangir Sabavala, Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain, SH Raza and Arpita Singh, went under the hammer. Over two days, 40 paintings were sold for Rs 18.8 crore.
"At a time when the world markets are in turmoil, it is heartening to see that the art market is not going the same way as the financial markets. The auction did reasonably good considering the rupee almost touched Rs 50 on Thursday" said Vazirani. "People seem to be more comfortable with investing in hard assets in these turbulent times."
Among the 30 unsold works were some by India's most popular artist MF Husain. Of the nine Husain works that were put up in the auction, only four were sold. One of his most important works, Civilisation, priced in the range of Rs 3-3.9 cr remained unsold.
The Indian art market is estimated at over Rs 2,000 crore.