Le Corbusier furniture from Chandigarh set for controversial auction

Le Corbusier-designed furniture, once housed in the Indian city of Chandigarh, is at the centre of a controversial auction in the US.

24 furniture lots produced by Swiss designer Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret are set to go to auction on March 31 at Wright auction house in Chicago.

All items were formerly housed in government buildings in Chandigarh. These include a pair of armchairs from the city's high court, with a high end estimate of $20,000, a desk estimated at $9,000 and a teak lounge chair worth an estimated $25,000.

The Le Corbusier designed Legislative Assembly building in Chandigarh

In June of last year Wright sold a pair of Jeanneret designed lounge chairs from Chandigarh for $51,250, well above the top end guide price of $40,000.

Chandigarh was built following the British departure from India in 1947. Le Corbusier was brought in to design all features of the new city, from its famed modernist buildings to its furniture and manhole covers, one of which recently sold for £15,000 ($24,100) in Paris last year.

Dealers and investors have made hay in the city, buying items from local officials unaware of their value.

Attempts by Indian diplomats to block previous sales have so far failed.

Richard Wright, the director of Wright, told the Times of India: ''Furniture from Chandigarh is prized internationally. I hope the visibility of our sales contribute to the future support and preservation of Chandigarh.

"Our consignors are confidential, but I would refer you to the preface of the new book: 'Le Corbusier Pierre Jeanneret: The Indian Adventure'. It clearly describes the circumstances under which the Indian government organised the sale of this furniture."

A group of local architects, led by Le Corbusier's first assistant in Chandigarh, Manmohan Nath Sharma, is campaigning to save what is left of the city's heritage.


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