Saturday, April 3, 2010

The auction season begins on a promising note

A series of international art auction sales, treated by many experts as a barometer of the current state of the marketplace, have begun with ample promise. The enthused and relieved auction houses claim that the demand is now high and the appetite of eager buyers is definitely up.

Vigorous bidding for modern art from India marked the recent Asia Week art auctions in New York courtesy Sotheby's. Christie's opened their Asian sales on a strong note, too. The UK Financial Times news report underlines the art market’s return to seriousness. It notes:
“With low-ball estimates, top-quality works and the chance to buy from a renowned collection, bidding ignited, with 15 interested parties battling for some lots. There is a new seriousness among buyers.”

A recent Business Week write-up points out that the sellers appear to be back, and experts see clear signs of recovery. For instance, a Manjit Bawa 1999 oil painting went for $ 360,000, almost double the high estimate, whereas two paintings by M. F. Husain fetched $ 150,000 and $ 210,000, compared to the high estimate of $ 80,000 and $ 120,000 dollar, respectively. A large acrylic painting ‘Gestation’ by Raza fetched close to million dollars compared to a pre-sale estimate of $ 600,000-800,000.

The recent Osian’s Masterpieces Series Auction had on offer a wide range of fine art by some of India’s Modern & Contemporary Art masters. The proportion of lots sold was close to 60%. The major, high-value lots witnessed vigorous bids. Saffronart in its Spring Online Auction managed to sell 75% of the lots, totaling $ 4.6 million. Roughly 60% of them exceeded their high estimates.

Gupta's ‘Doot’ fetched $391,000 against a high estimate of $ 240,000. Akbar Padamsee's 1953 portrait, ‘Prophet’ (a winning bid of $ 278,875, three times more than its higher estimate $ 80,000), Husain's 1970s Untitled (a winning bid of over $ 400,000, with a high estimate of $ 266,670), and F. N. Souza's ‘Decomposing Head’ that went for $ 350,750, exceeding its high estimate of $ 250,000) were no exceptions.

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