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Husain died in June 2011 in London at the age of 95. He lived in exile since 2006 after being charged with hurting public sentiments with his paintings of Indian deities.

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In the Artery list of Top 50 Artists, Husain is followed in the rankings by two other members of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, F.N. Souza and S.H. Raza, with the three alone recording a collective sale of Rs1,920.5 crore. Modernists, including Progressive artists, dominate the list, with 29 of them featuring in the top 50.

“Over the past decade, we have seen individual works by master artists reach new record prices. So that means a single buyer is willing to spend close to $3-5 million on a given work," says Yamini Mehta, international head of South Asian Art at Sotheby’s.

In an interview with Mint on the eve of auction house Saffronart’s autumn sale in September 2016, co-founder Dinesh Vazirani pointed out that with private museums beginning to purchase significant works by modern painters, fewer works were now available for sale, thus steeply raising their prices.

While the prices realized by modern artists overshadow sales of works by other artists at auction, it’s reassuring to observe that as many as 16 contemporary artists feature among the top 50. Subodh Gupta, with auction sales that have reached Rs214.4 crore, is the top-performing living contemporary Indian artist. Atul Dodiya, T.V. Santhosh, Bharti Kher and Jitish Kallat are among the others.

Artery India recently also made public data it had put together of the 500 most expensive works of art by Indian artists. An untitled work by V.S. Gaitonde, sold by Christie’s in 2015 (he was the subject of a Guggenheim retrospective that year), was the most expensive sale at $4.4 million.

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