Had the artwork failed to reach its high target, the ‘capricious’ Indian market might have gone into a shell and even reverted back to its gloomy phase. The negative perception would have prevailed over night. Thankfully that wasn’t the case!
In hindsight, a record price only requires two contenders. And two major art buyers – as a matter of luck or perhaps design, decided that the work deserved their patronage. The gradual bidding crescendo soon struck its fever pitch, realizing a value that was beyond the wildest dreams of the market. Similarly, Sotheby’s equally fruitful sale of rare works by Rabindranath Tagore from the Dartington Hall Trust left everyone awestruck at the outcome. Throwing light on the sale, Sharmistha Ray of ET Bureau pointed out:
“The Tagore sale at Sotheby’s is likely to have a similar impact on the Bengal School’s market, whose collector base is a small but solid minority of connoisseurs in the art buying community. The twelve works on paper by the late Bengal Master fetched six times over its upper estimate yielding £1.6 million (Rs 11.3 crore). The knockout of the lot was a diminutive watercolor of a woman, ‘Untitled (Portrait of a Woman)’, measuring just over 19 x 15 inches, which sold for almost eight times its upper estimate at £313,250 (Rs 2.2 crore).”In light of a rather dubious secondary market for the Bengal School, which often peddles in a flurry of fakes, the impeccable provenance was a major incentive. No surprise; for Sotheby’s the sale proved to be a major coup.