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MF Husain tops Dubai Christie's sale

India's high-profile MF Husain's Untitled Woman and Horses sold for a record $441,600 as buyers

india Updated: Feb 02, 2007 20:04 IST
Uma Nair (Indo-Asian News Service)
Uma Nair (Indo-Asian News Service)

India's high-profile MF Husain's Untitled Woman and Horses sold for a record $441,600 as buyers blazed a bidding trail at Christie's second sale of International Modern & Contemporary Art.

The 2002 work sold to an international private collector at the auction Thursday at almost double the estimate of $200,000-250,000, a record for the auction.

Christie's sale, which fetched a total of $9.4 million, was ideally timed given the increase in global demand for works by Indian artists.

Among the 190 lots that were offered, 175 were sold registering a record break of 92 percent.

Following Husain was Ram Kumar, whose large landscape, an Untitled oil on canvas belonging to 1968, went for a handsome $329,600 from an estimate of $300,000-500,000,to a private Indian collector, a first for the artist.

Then there was abstract master Syed Haider Raza, whose Rajput House of 1965-66 went for $307,200 from an estimate of $120,000-180,000, again to an Indian private collector.

A world record was also set for J. Swaminthan's Untitled work at $240,000 from an estimate of $200,000-250,000 to an Indian tradesman.

Syed Haider Raza's moody "Lumière d'Eté" of 1958 sold for $204,000.

Christies were delighted also with the presence of Husain, who was in the room.

Strong interest was expected for works by prominent Gulf artists as well as pieces sourced from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Given the record-breaking prices fetched for Indian art at Christie's inaugural sale in May 2006, works such as "Horses" by Husain, who has become a part-time Dubai resident, were closely watched and heralded for their magnificence

Accompanied by a select group of western works, Thursday's auction was set to build on the success of the inaugural sale and, with Christie's at the helm, further confirm the Middle East as a major player in the international art market.

In less than a generation, this formerly flyblown desert way station has transformed into a glittering, free-spending juggernaut, home to ever-more-gigantic shopping malls (the soon-to-open five million sq ft Dubai Mall is billed as the largest on the planet).

In 2006, visitors to Dubai totalled seven million, while the resident population is just 1.2 million.

First Published: Feb 03, 2007 09:00 IST