Bloomberg News

Van Gogh Work Trails Estimate at $1.2 Million India Art Auction

February 18, 2012

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Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The first auction of western art in India by a Mumbai-based company fetched $1.2 million, trailing forecasts, as fewer than half the works found buyers and a Vincent Van Gogh painting sold below its estimated price.

“L’Allee aux deux promeneurs” (Lane With Two Figures), an early landscape by the largely self-taught artist, sold for $697,000, failing to meet an estimate of $800,000 to $1 million. Van Gogh painted it in 1885 in the Dutch village of Neunen where he was living, according to Saffronart auction house.

The sale, featuring works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Salvador Dali, was forecast to raise $3.3 million to $4.2 million. It managed only 36 percent of the low estimate, as 41 of the 73 works on the block went unsold, according to the auction house’s website.

The lower-than-expected price for the impressionist and modern pieces in India contrasts with demand for Indian works in auctions last year across the world. Paintings by Tyeb Mehta, Jehangir Sabavala and Syed Haider Raza sold for more than their estimates at auctions by Saffronart, Sotheby’s and Christie’s International in September, when buyers paid a total of $14 million for Indian art over two weeks.

Saffronart’s latest auction featured largely minor works by western artists just as India’s government predicted the weakest economic expansion this year since 2009, potentially damping demand. While museum-quality works are fetching higher prices, more routine pieces may struggle to sell at a time when an increasing number of investment-minded buyers are migrating to the more fashionable market for contemporary art, dealers said.

All three Dali works found buyers, with two beating their top estimates. A drawing, sculpture and lithograph by the Surrealist artist fetched a total of $65,880. Buyers paid a total of $74,160 for five works by Picasso, according to Saffronart’s website. There were 12 pieces on sale by the Spanish artist, the world auction market’s No. 4 earner in 2011.

--Editors: Mark Beech, Jim Ruane.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pratish Narayanan in Mumbai at pnarayanan9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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