Husain joins million-dollar club

February 25th, 2008 - 5:50 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) Maqbool Fida Husain’s oil painting “Tribute to Hashmi”, a homage to slain theatre activist Safdar Hashmi painted in 1989, has set a milestone for the celebrated artist at the Emami Chisel Art auction in Kolkata by raking in Rs.44 million ($1.1 million). “This is the first time a Husain painting crossed the $1 million mark, placing the master in the million-dollar club with S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza, Amrita Sher-Gil and Tyeb Mehta,” Vikram Bachawat, director of Emami Chisel Art, told IANS from Kolkata over phone.

The highest price that an Indian painting has commanded so far is nearly Rs.64 million ($1.6 million) for a Tyeb Mehta work.

The auction, the first for Emami Chisel Art, was the country’s first combination auction involving global online bidding, spot bids and bidding over phone.

Over 200 art lovers, one-off buyers and investors thronged the auction premises at Emami Towers, in the heart of Kolkata. “We also had successful online bids from the US and Mauritius,” Bachawat said.

The highlights of the auction were Tyeb Mehta’s “Kali III” that went off the rack at $1.1 million - on par with Husain - followed by J. Swaminathan’s “Bird & Mountain” which fetched Rs.500,000. A painting by young artist Sekhar Roy fetched Rs.11.5 million, while a Ganesh Pyne sold for Rs.62.5 million.

“Notwithstanding difficult market conditions, the evening saw total sales touch Rs.24 crore (Rs.240 million). It indicates that art is perhaps a better investment than most others. Nearly 91 percent, comprising 79 of the 89 paintings up for grabs by 70 artists, were sold,” the auctioneer said.

Commenting on the prices, industry sources said domestic auction houses like Emami Chisel would soon give global auctioneers a run for their money because this is the first time top line artists commanded such hefty prices in a domestic auction and set so many records.

Emami plans to hold its next auction in September featuring contemporary artists.

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