Big prices at Christie’s first Indian sale

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Christie’s first auction in India totalled USD$15,455,000 yesterday, doubling pre-sale expectations and selling 98% by lot.

The highlight of the auction was the sale of Untitled by V S Gaitonde, which sold for USD$3.7 million – the highest price for a modern work of art sold in India. It was one of 81 lots under the hammer, 50 of which came from the collection of Mumbai-based curators Kekoo Ghandy and his wife, Khorshed Ghandi, whose exhibitions helped shape the modern art movement in India.

The auction marks an historic moment for Christie’s, building on a 20-year history in India, and a decade of global market leadership in Modern Indian Art through sales in New York and London.

Buyers came from around India, across Asia, the US and Europe. Christie’s reported that the pre-sale exhibitions during the past two weeks in New Delhi and Mumbai attracted many visitors and interest from both new and existing clients was so great at yesterday’s auction that an extra room had to be prepared to accommodate clients. The sale was held at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai.

“It has been a true privilege to be in India where we have been honoured by the warm welcome. The response to our sale and events has been extraordinary,” said Steven Murphy, chief executive officer, Christie’s. “Holding an auction in India for the first time is the realization of a long held dream for Christie’s. We are delighted to have welcomed several thousand members of the public and clients over the course of the month. Our mission remains to serve our clients with exceptional works of art and to serve artists and all those passionate about art by convening them with our global network. We hope to continue to share the vibrant creativity we have experienced in Mumbai with a global audience as we grow our operations here in India.”