x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Christie's plans first art auction in India

The London-based auctioneer, which has had an office in Mumbai for two decades, is to stage its first sale there in December.

Auctioneer Hugo Weihe takes bids during the sale of
Auctioneer Hugo Weihe takes bids during the sale of "Saurashtra" by Indian artist Syed Haider Raza.

MUMBAI // The international auctioneer Christie's will hold its first sale in India as it seeks to capitalise on the country's expanding art scene.

The London-based auctioneer, which has had an office in Mumbai for two decades, is to stage its first sale there in December.

"The decision to hold auctions at this time is a reflection of the strong momentum in the domestic art marketplace," Christie's said yesterday.

The sale also reflects "the increased international appeal of Indian art and the growing participation of Indian collectors across international sale categories", it added. The sale would be the first by an international auction house in India, it said.

Christie's chief executive, Steven Murphy, said the auction would consist of domestic artwork, and that other sales would follow.

The sale "will allow Indian collectors domestic access to works of art sourced by Christie's, and international collectors access to the very best of Indian art", he said.

The plan follows a recent announcement by the auctioneer that it would hold its first sale in Shanghai in September.

While India's art market is still in its infancy, far behind China's, a developing interest in western art was fuelled by strong economic growth over the past decade.

Last year, New Delhi saw the first sale of international masterpieces to target India, with works by Van Gogh and Picasso among 73 pieces by top Impressionist and modern artists going under the hammer.

The results of the sale, however, failed to match estimates, with fewer than half of the works finding buyers.

This was in contrast to international demand for Indian artworks in recent years.

The 1983 painting Saurashtra by Syed Haider Raza sold for almost US$3.6 million (Dh13.2m) at Christie's in London in 2010, setting a record for a modern Indian work.

But art prices in India have slipped lately as a result of the global financial crisis and the slowdown in India's economy.

* Agence France-Presse