Vasudeo S Gaitonde masterwork to auction at Sotheby's

A newly discovered masterwork by India's foremost abstract artist, Vasudeo S Gaitonde, is to sell at Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art auction in London on June 11. 

Estimated at £250,000-450,000 ($379,589-683,108), the sale will represent the first time this piece has come to market in more than 50 years.

Gaitonde painting auction
The stunning oil on canvas is in pristine condition, having been stored in an attic by its present owner – who was ignorant to the fact that it was a rare Gaitonde original

The undulating 1962 work, Painting No 1, is believed to have previously resided in the collection of industrialist and philanthropist John D Rockefeller III, who was among the first Western art buyers to embrace contemporary Indian art.

Having been consigned to an attic by its present owner, it was discovered by Sotheby's experts during a routine valuation.

The luminous oil on canvas, which is stylistically typical of Gaitonde, is signed and dated by the artist on its reverse.

Sotheby's Priyanka Mathew comments: "When I saw this beautiful painting hanging in its owner's home I knew at once it was a Gaitonde.

"I climbed the ladder, turned the painting round and there was my confirmation: 'Painting No 1'; dated 1962 with Gaitonde's signature in English and Devanagri. It was an incredibly exciting moment."

Works by Gaitonde, who died in 2001, are rapidly accruing posthumous plaudits. The Indian artist is to be the subject of a forthcoming retrospective at New York's Guggenheim Museum.

Duly, the value of Gaitonde's work is on the up. In March 2013, an untitled 1962 oil on canvas by the artist sold for $965,000 at Sotheby's, leading the auction house's sale of modern and contemporary Indian art.

Gaitonde produced very few canvases during his lifetime due, in part, to his meticulous approach. This fact, combined with the quality of the works he did produce, and the esteem in which they are held by the art establishment, guarantees considerable interest come June 11.

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