The Economic Times
31 March 2009
KOLKATA: It's not just about signatures anymore. The art market is clearly and increasingly veering around to a scenario worldwide where top quality works are calling the shots and commanding the heftiest prices. This is evident from the recent auctions in New York and Doha.
It's true, of course, that the highest values have also corrected to lower brackets, and may be more realistic price points, compared to boomtime tags.
At the recent auction by Sotheby's in New York, an M F Husain work from the mid-1970s, showing two women, which was perceived by collectors to be figuring among Husain's extremely classy paintings, took home a whopping $374,500. At the same time, F N Souza, while not witnessing the feverish buying of the boom period, saw an untitled oil work depicting the twin themes of sex and religion, fetching $302,500.
In the same breath, an Akbar Padamsee Untitled oil of a nude woman went under the hammer for $242,500. The auction also found the sale of some other works by Husain and Souza, besides Tyeb Mehta, S H Raza and Ram Kumar."
Our strategy for this sale was to put together a tightly edited group of the finest works available, sagely estimated, and we are delighted to see the market respond so positively. It was especially encouraging that 100% of the top ten lots were bought by, or for, established collectors, highlighting the strength at the top end of the market. There was also solid interest in 18th-19th century Tibetan paintings and rare, good-quality miniature paintings. Clearly, auctions containing such works continue to attract top-level interest," a Sotheby's spokesperson said.
The Doha auction also drove home the increasing dominance of quality works. A stainless sculpture by Indian-born UK-based contemporary artist, Anish Kapoor, Untitled (painted stainless steel) made in 2003 sold for $974,500 to a Middle Eastern private client. It exceeded its low estimate of $900,000. Kapoor's works are in important museum and private collections the world over, making him one the most prominent artists of Indian origin.
The second part of two-day series of the Doha sale also stole everyone's breath away. This session witnessed The Pearl Carpet of Baroda being picked up by an anonymous buyer for an astronomical $5,458,500, surpassing the presale estimate of roughly $5 million. It was the highest for a carpet at auction and for a work at auction in the Middle East."
Even in difficult economic times such as these, we are continuing too see top works with good provenance and condition fetch very good values," the spokesperson said.