Indian billionaire Nirav Modi’s seized assets to be auctioned by Saffronart

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M.F. Husain's The Battle of Ganga and Jamuna Mahabharata (1972). Image courtesy of Saffronart.

Indian auctioneer Saffronart will host two auctions featuring the seized assets of fugitive billionaire Nirav Modi, on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate, Government of India. The first will be a live auction in Mumbai, on February 27th, followed by an online auction on Saffronart’s digital platform on March 3rd and 4th.

Collectively, the two auctions will feature 15 artworks by significant modern and contemporary Indian artists, as well as a selection of luxury watches, handbags and cars.

This is the first time that an auction house has been appointed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to conduct an auction of seized assets in India. Last March, the Income Tax Department of India asked Saffronart to conduct an auction of seized paintings. The total for this sale was INR 54.84 crores (about $7.5m).

DineshVazirani, Saffronart, CEO and co-founder, said in statement: “We are diligently working with the Enforcement Directorate to assess and evaluate each item and put together the catalogue for both the sales, which include a distinguished line-up of artworks by Amrita Sher-Gil, M F Husain and V S Gaitonde.

Highlights of the auctions include Boys with Lemons (1935) by Amrita Sher-Gil –  which has never come to auction before – estimated to fetch INR 12 – 18 crores ($1.6m – $2.5m), a canvas by M F Husain from his ‘Mahabharata’ series, also estimated to fetch the same amount and a V S Gaitonde painting from 1972 expected to sell between INR 7 – 9 crores ($980,000 – $1.2m).

There are also more than 80 branded handbags included in the auctions.

Select lots from the upcoming auctions will be exhibited at the Saffronart gallery in The Oberoi, New Delhi during the India Art Fair at the end of January.