London achieved the highest price of the summer season for Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art yesterday, when a newly discovered work by Indian master Vasudeo S. Gaitonde sold for £698,500 / $1,088,403, more twice its pre-sale low estimate of £250,000-450,000. Works by modern masters such as M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza and Bhupen Khakhar also performed strongly, with exciting estimates attracting bidders from the US, Europe, the Far East and India. Coming to the market for the first time in 50 years, Gaitondes luminous Painting No.1, of 1962, was acquired in New York during the 1960s. Consigned to an attic for many years and discovered during a valuation by one of Sothebys New York specialists, the works owners were unaware that it was a painting by one of Indias most important artists. The painting is the first of a series of works Gaitonde produced in 1962. Painting No. 4 from the same series is currently in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Gaitonde will be the subject of an historic forthcoming solo retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York which would be the first time a Modern Indian painter has featured in a major American institution.
Works by M.F. Husain achieved some of the highest prices in the sale. Two outstanding paintings, Jhoola of 1961 and Untitled (three women with sitar) of 1979, sold for £242,500 and £188,500 respectively. Bhupen Khakhars Air, Steam and Speed soared above its pre-sale estimate of £100,000-150,000 to achieve £182,500.
Yamini Mehta, Sothebys International Head of Indian and South Asian Art commented: We were thrilled, but not altogether surprised that Gaitondes exquisitely subtle and incandescent Painting No. 1 was the pick of the weeks sales in London. There was intense competition for this important and exceptionally rare work. Following on from the hugely successful Amaya Collection in New York in March, we have demonstrated that there is a keen appetite amongst international collectors for works by Modern Masters which are new to the market and attractively priced. This was a truly global sale with bidding and underbidding from around the world - from India, the Far East, the US and Europe.