MF Husain painting seized from Nirav Modi sets auction record of ₹13.44 crore in Mumbai
A total of 40 lots — 15 artworks, a 2010 Rolls Royce Ghost and a selection of limited-edition and luxury handbags and watches -- were sold at the auction.Updated: Mar 06, 2020 15:40 IST
A 1972 work of painter MF Husain set a new record on Thursday, when it was sold for ₹13.44 crore at Saffronart’s Spring Live Auction of 40 items, which were seized from diamantaire Nirav Modi. Husain’s work – ‘Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12’ – was among the 15 artworks, a 2010 Rolls Royce Ghost and several limited-edition watches and handbags that were auctioned by Saffronart on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Modi, an accused in the case, is currently lodged in Wandsworth prison in London. The paintings and other items were seized from Modi’s houses by ED, after registering a money-laundering case against him and his uncle, Mehul Choksi.
The item that fetched the highest price on Thursday was the 1935 Amrita Sher-Gil painting ‘Boys with Lemons’. It was sold for ₹15.68 crore, within its estimated range of ₹12 crore-₹18 crore. According to Artery India Price Databank, this is the artist’s fifth-highest selling work.
An untitled work by VS Gaitonde from 1972 was sold for ₹9.52 crore, just above its higher estimate of ₹9 crore, and an untitled 1992 Manjit Bawa painting was bought for ₹6.16 crore, second-best price for the artist.
While all 40 items were sold at the auction were sold for ₹57,57,58,400, only one artwork, Twenty-Seven Ducks of Memory by Arpita Singh, fetched a price below its lower limit. It was sold for ₹84 lakh as against its lower estimate price of ₹1.2 crore.
The auction, which was held at the Saffronart gallery in Mumbai, saw heavy bidding from buyers on the phone – from New York and Zurich to Jaipur and Navi Mumbai – especially for the handbags and watches.
The Rolls Royce Ghost was sold for ₹1.68 crore, against an upper estimate of ₹95 lakh. Riyaz Ismail, an automobile businessman from Kerala, who was in Mumbai to bid for the car, said he was interested as it was a car purpose-built for distance and more suitable to Indian roads than the Rolls Royce Phantom. “The Royce sold for a great discounted price,” he said.
Even the artworks went for a “discounted price”, said Arvind Vijaymohan, CEO of art advisory Artery India. “They underperformed here, when considered in terms of their current fair market valuation. The work by Ravi Varma, on the other hand, was of average quality and fared better than its acceptable benchmark. This is indicative of a market that, at this time, is willing to stretch itself marginally at the entry- to mid-level price range for assets by the top-tier masters, with confidence softening as we ascend the ladder. Such pockets of price gap, that usually accompany a sluggish financial market sentiment, have historically proven to be opportune times for significant acquisitions,” Vijaymohan said.