A Picasso for the boot of your Rover? Indian Online Auction House Expands into Western Art

Bullet Shih Jan, 2012 0
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Vincent Van Gogh via saffronart.com

After Indian car maker Tata Motors made a push into the west by purchasing venerable British carmakers Jaguar and Rover in 2008, it seems one of their auction houses may have similar ambitions.  Artdaily.org is reporting that Indian online auction house saffronart.com has announced their first auction of Western modern and contemporary art to coincide with those of the two major British houses in London this February.  As many new online art auction ventures have failed over the past decade, saffronart seems to be pushing along.  Saffronart was founded in 2000 by Indian husband and wife art collectors Dinesh and Minal Vazirani who credit saffronart’s success to the fact that much of the new wealth in India was created through online ventures, so that as a collecting public, they may be more comfortable with buying something such as art online than their stodgier western counterparts.  Saffronart’s original focus was the contemporary Indian art market with an attempt to add transparency to the rather arcane science of art valuations.  It does not beat around the bush and their website readily provides the analysis of each sale.  For instance , their December 2011 auction tallied a little under $2.7 million as 57 of the 80 lots offered (71%) were sold and 34 (61%) were sold above the high estimate.  However, their February auction looks like it will exceed these numbers handily as the featured painting in the 73 lot sale is lot 31, L’Allee aux deux promeneursby Vincent Van Gogh with an estimate of  US$ 800,000 – 1,000,000.  It is a small oil from his darker Dutch period with a verifiable provenance as it was sold Christie’s London in 1986 before being acquired by its two subsequent owners.

Francis Bacon via saffronart.com

While an oil by Picasso, Le Transformateur painted in 1953 is estimated at US$ 400,000-450,000, the rest of the lots are primarily lower valued works with the majority of the auction being works on paper and limited prints by the more prominent Impressionists as well as a few decorative paintings by second tier Impressionists.  A few modern headliners such as Warhol, Hockney, and Litchenstein are thrown in along with an interesting print by Bacon as the final lot 73.

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