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Strong results lift the market for Modern and Contemporary South Asian art
The top lot of the sale was the cover lot, Painting No. 3, an ethereal work from 1962 by Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, which fetched $2,517,000 (est. $2/3 million). Photo: Sotheby's.

(NEW YORK, NY).- Sotheby’s sale of Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art totaled $6,663,875, well within the pre-sale estimate of $5.3/7.8 million. The top lot of the sale was the cover lot, Painting No. 3, an ethereal work from 1962 by Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, which fetched $2,517,000 (est. $2/3 million). Gaitonde will be the subject of a major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York this autumn, making him one of the first Modern Indian artists to be honored with a retrospective in the United States.

Yamini Mehta, International Department Head, Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art, notes, “Our sale today had all the hallmarks of a strong result - quality works that were fresh to market with attractive prices. Bidders from around the world responded in kind, with over 90% of our lots sold by value. Over 97% of lots sold achieved prices at or above their pre-sale estimate.”

Priyanka Mathew, Vice President, Head of Sales, Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art, said, “It was an honor to accept the winning bid for our museum-quality Gaitonde which sold for over $2.5 million, a further privilege to be the first South Asian auctioneer to take a bid over $1 million for an Indian work of art. While our sale was uniformly strong throughout, we saw particularly active bidding and engagement for the portraiture section, alongside works by South Indian masters and particularly impressive results for our Contemporary offering.”

Buffalo Among Flower Bed, a rare and early landscape by Bhupen Khakhar, from the collection of Her Excellency the late Dr. Johanna Nestor, Austria’s ambassador to India from 1966 to 1970, exceeded pre-sale estimates, achieving $293,000 (est. $150/200,000). Sweatopia 1 by one of India’s leading mid-career artists, Jitish Kallat, brought $221,000, while Sayed Haider Raza’s Untitled fetched $221,000, above expectations.

Coming from an Australian private collection, Untitled (Landscape) by Francis Newton Souza brought $221,000 (est. $150/200,000). Admired for his magnificent landscapes, this oil on board could be an abstracted depiction of Rome based on the cathedral, steeples and architecture. Further Indian Contemporary highlights that saw strong prices included Manjit Bawa’s Untitled, which sold for $209,000 (est. $120/180,000) and Subodh Gupta’s Idol Chief III which achieved $185,000 (est. $150/250,000).

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