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NEW DELHI : Over eight pieces of art work have sold for close to 30 crore at the Pundole's The Fine Art Sale this week in Mumbai. In a dynamic saleroom at the gallery in Hamilton House, the anticipated sale of 83 lots from the collections of Nandlal Bandhopadhyay and others sold for about 42.68 crore hammer price, excluding commissions and taxes, surpassing the gallery's expected high estimate of 24.09 crore. A total of 81 of the 83 lots on offer were sold.

Francis Newton Souza’s Couple - a seminal work from the artist’s oeuvre - from 1964 fetched 7 crore at the auction. Akbar Padamsee’s Grey Nude from 1960 from a private collection in Mumbai fetched 4 crore, exceeding its pre-sale estimate of 1.5-2.5 crore.

Mallika Sagar, a specialist in Modern and Contemporary Indian art and Pundole's auctioneer, said they saw strong bidding across a range of artists and new world auction records were set for several as well. "We were also fortunate to have a superlative group of NS Bendre's, representing some of the strongest works to come in to the market," she said.

Bendre, who was popular with collectors in the 1990s, has seen a recent resurgence of interest in his works, with steady increases in prices achieved at auctions, both globally and within India, she added. At this auction, his Jaisalmer Fort sold for a world record hammer price of 5 crore, followed by Kashmir Landscape at 3.8 crore, A Bundi House at 3.5 crore and Tarnetar Fair at 2.4 crore.

Three of the canvases were from his pointillist phase, and two of these captured scenes from Rajasthan, one of his favoured sources of inspiration. Provenance played a huge part in his works. Three of the canvases came from the Mumbai collector Bandyopadhyay who had a close relationship with the artist over many years, and the fourth was formerly in the collection of Dr Jamshed J. Bhabha.

The gallery said it saw a large number of collectors participate through its virtual saleroom, on the telephone, and a limited number in the room as well. They included a mix of first-time bidders, seasoned collectors and young, new collectors from both India and around the world.

Independent art critic and curator Uma Nair said this auction proves that collectors of pedigree will always find new heights in collections that belong to vintage vitality. "The NS Bendre works in this sale were a hark back to India's arts faculty being pedagogues of excellence. This sale is a reaffirmation for the auction house which is also trusted by Masanari Fukuoka, the Japanese fish baron wholesaler, whose next sale will happen in February 2022," said Nair.

Famous Indian artworks have been fetching record breaking sums over the past year. Last month, at its auction of Modern & Contemporary South Asian in London, Sotheby's sold ‘Krishna Hotel’ by Bhupen Khakhar for £1.2 million ( 12.7 crore), six times the pre-auction estimate of £200,000-400,000. It added that FN Souza's Red Building was sold at 9.5 crore at the same auction.

Last year, a Vasudeo S. Gaitonde painting sold for 32 crore and a Maqbool Fida Husain oil-on-canvas work, made in 1958, went under the hammer and sold online for the first time for 18.47 crore.

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