Heritage furniture from Chandigarh once again went under the hammer at an auction in the US on Saturday and was sold for around Rs 25 lakh.
As many as eight furniture items designed by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret in Chandigarh found takers in the auction held by Treadway Toomey Auctions at Oak Park, Illinois.
An architect’s stool pair was auctioned for US 3,750 dollars, a library chair model for 4,000 dollars, a round stool for 4,000 dollars, an office table desk-bookcase for 4,250 dollars, an architect’s stool pair for 2,400 dollars, six armchairs for 9,000 dollars, an office armchair pair and student desk went for 4,750 dollars.
There has been a spate of auctions of heritage furniture from the city at foreign auction houses since 2007.
The UT administration has been unable to stall these auctions as of now. Though attempts were made earlier by sending communications to the auction houses, the administration was informed that they had purchased these items from dealers and had all the required receipts.
The auctions have fetched the auction houses millions. Most of these items were sold as scrap in Chandigarh, not fetching more than a few thousand rupees.
City advocate writes to Union minister
City-based advocate Ajay Jagga has written a letter to Union minister of state (independent charge) for culture Mahesh Sharma stating that it is an economic offence to traffic culture property out of the country.
“After a series of communications to the Chandigarh office of the CBI about auction of Indian heritage items in US, France, Germany, I approached the the CBI and then on April 25 this year they issued a letter to their Chandigarh office for taking further action on information regarding auction of heritage of Chandigarh items,” reads the letter.
“The thing is that the property of India (heritage of Chandigarh) is being auctioned abroad without any fear of law enforcing agencies,” it says.
The property is smuggled or not is a matter of investigation. The property of the Chandigarh administration (furniture and fixture items created by architects Mon Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret) is being auctioned in the US for more than a decade,” it further states.
“Now, despite giving the advance intimation of an auction to held in the US on September 10, the auction went as per schedule and eight items were auctioned for 36,900 USD without any protest from the Indian side,” it concluded.