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    Tyeb Mehta's paintings sell for millions: Here's how Sotheby's sets auction estimates

    Synopsis

    Ishrat Kanga of Sotheby’s London breaks it down for the layman.

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    The most important parameter is previous prices commanded by the work in question.
    The pricing of art, especi ally at auctions, is a bit of a mystery for the layman. And even though there is no hard and fast formula, there exist multiple parameters that guide the estimates. Ishrat Kanga, deputy director, specialist, head of sale at Sotheby’s London breaks it down for ET Panache.

    Historic pricing
    The most important parameter is previous prices commanded by the work in question. “Auctions are a secondary market. It automatically means that everything we sell has been sold before. Everything we sell has changed hands. It’s now (when being auctioned) is going from primary to secondary. One of the first things we look at, especially if it’s contemporary art, is what it sold for previously. That’s quite easy because the artist has a gallery that he is selling at. We contact the gallerist, find out what the work is retailing at and that gives us a good indication where we should base our estimate at,” Kanga says.

    Raid the database
    And if the work’s been auctioned before, then there is that extra information on the books too.

    “We have a database of every single work that’s sold at an international and public auction. So you can search by the artist’s name. You get to see all the previous artist records,” she says.

    Ishrat Kanga- Sotheby's
    Ishrat Kanga of Sotheby’s London said multiple parameters guide the estimates of pricing at auctions.

    Condition of the work
    Perhaps the most critical price determinant. “Something that has paint loss, or has been stored in really damp conditions or the entire stretcher sort of bends and buckles, all these things make a lot of difference,” Kanga says, adding, “You could have two works painted by the same artist within a span of two months. One was stored in a very good condition, and one was stored in a terrible condition. The price difference between the two will be huge.”

    Placement of the work in artist’s oeuvr
    Another factor is the period when the work being auctioned was created. “Every artist has a more desirable period when they were painting or practising. For example Tyeb Mehta’s works from the 90s, which were considered later works make the most money. But (MF) Hussain on the other hand, the works that he made in the 50s and 60s, when he first started (out as an artist) make the most money. So you really can’t say whether it was their early work or their later work. It depends on the artist. But there is always this desirable moment in the artist’s oeuvre that collectors consider is the height in the artist’s production (of work),” Kanga concludes. Points to be noted future collectors.

    Nirav Modi's Art Fortune Auctioned: Grey Nude & Other Paintings That Stole The Show

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    An Anticipated Affair

    A glimpse of the dimensions of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s wealth recently came to light with the auction of some of his artworks. The much-anticipated affair in Mumbai not only showcased his credentials as an art collector but also displayed his fondness for doing things in a big way. Suffice to say that those who successfully placed their bids that night, walked away with some largish works. When hanging on the wall, many of these works would be hard to miss, rather they’d dominate. Here are some works that were auctioned.


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