Mumbai: Belying speculation that rocky markets would affect buying, Saffronart’s first auction of the season has surpassed expectation with sales totalling more than Rs27 crore.
Breaking records in several categories, including setting the bar for the most successful sale of Indian contemporary art, the auction set personal bests for artists such as Bharti Kher, Sudhir Patwardhan, Shilpa Gupta, and Surendran Nair whose Doctrine of the Forest: An Actor at Play (Cuckoonebulopolis) achieved the highest bid at Rs2.12 crore.
“We were quite confident we’d do well,” said Saffonart co-founder and director Dinesh Vazirani. “The average lot price was about $60,000 (Rs24.3 lakh) which in the past used to be half of that. It showed that contemporary and modern art are pretty much on the same level right now.”
Works by Subodh Gupta, Jagannath Panda, and Shibu Natesan rounded off the top five with 21 artists setting world auction records. First-time sellers such as Shilpa Gupta and Dhananjay Singh performed better than expected with Gupta’s Untitled going for Rs10.56 lakh against an estimate of Rs2.25-2.75 lakh.
“Indians are very rooted in the modernists. The question was were they going to accept contemporary art as they had modern art?” Vazirani said. “The answer is yes.”