$1.31m Tyeb Mehta art sale shows mobile phone bids are big business


A new precedent for Indian art was set last Thursday, June 16, when a painting by Tyeb Mehta was sold for a price of $1.31m, with mobile phone bidding playing a major part in the outcome.

The event was hosted by Saffronart, the country's leading auction house which specialises in selling Modern and Contemporary Indian Art, and was an impressive conclusion to its Summer Online Auction with overall sales of $4m. 

The high prices achieved by lots of the artists whose works were sold, shows that the strength of the Indian art scene, and Asian markets in general, is still growing and becoming more lucrative.

Mehta's 1998 work, simply called Untitled (Kali), beat its pre-sale estimate of $287,360-402,300 after competitive bidding pushed the price up until it finally went for more than $1m.

The sale also opens up new ways in which auction houses can sell their works, as a large amount of bids were submitted via mobile phone. In fact, a World Record offer of $1.06m was made via a mobile phone during the event.


Indian artist's works, like this one by Mehta, are becoming more valuable

Saffronart is virtually the only auctioneer anywhere to offer this service, but it is sure to catch on soon, like online bidding has done during the last few years.

They said that in total, bids and underbids of $3.6m were made by mobile phone during the sale, and more than 10% of the works on offer received bids in this way.

Other artists whose works sold for high amounts include Jehangir Sabavala, Manjit Bawa, SH Raza and G Ravinder Reddy.

What this auction, and others like it, shows is that the developing art markets in countries like China, India, and also Russia, are becoming increasingly influential.

This means that savvy collectors need to start looking at these markets as not just places where they can sell art, but also where they should be buying it from. In the next few years, the Asian art scene is going to be much more prominent, as so-called 'Medici' collectors look to assert their authority.


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