Nirav Modi's art collection auctioned, untitled Gaitonde painting goes for Rs 25 cr
In the catalogue, the Gaitonde pricing was mentioned as ‘estimate upon request’.
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On Tuesday, of the 68 lots of paintings that formerly belonged to diamantaire Nirav Modi were on auction to recover outstanding income tax dues, one piece stood out. It was a striking, deep red, untitled work by modernist VS Gaitonde. In the catalogue, the Gaitonde pricing was mentioned as ‘estimate upon request’. So, on Tuesday night, at 8.57 pm, it was anyone’s guess what the starting amount for the bid would be. The bidding was opened at Rs 10 crore by Dinesh Vazirani, CEO, Saffronart. At 9.02 pm, just five minutes later, the work was sold to a buyer, placing bids over the phone, at Rs 22 crore (hammer price).
The final price, including buyer premium, worked out to Rs 25.2 crore, making the painting the fourth most expensive work ever sold by the artist. The Gaitonde with the hammer price of Rs 22 crore, and an oil on canvas work by Raja Ravi Varma at Rs 14 crore (hammer price; Rs 16.1 crore, including buyer premium) played a major part in bringing the IT department closest to the total recovery amount. A notice on the IT department website stated that the auction was intended for the recovery of the outstanding dues (approximately Rs 95.92 crore) from Camelot Enterprises, a shell company owned by Modi.
According to Minal Vazirani, cofounder, Saffronart, the auction house had estimated Rs 30-50 crore to be raised through the sale. The final sale proceeds (that go to the Tax Recovery Officer) of Rs 54.84 crore overshot this estimate. That said, dues in excess of Rs 40 crore are still outstanding. Clarity on the fate of the 13 unsold lots from the evening is still awaited. The hope is that they may attract more interest in the future and hopefully, some monies too.