Christie’s Debuts First Major Art Auction in India

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India’s luxury goods market is the world’s fastest growing

“Kamat’s Potpourri” – work by Amrita Sher-Gil Dec. 20 – The international art dealer Christie’s has just held its first auction in India. 83 lots of high value paintings and sketches, including works by Tyeb Mehta and Amrita Sher-Gil were on offer. Estimates for the total lot came to US$6-8 million.

The art auction market in india has been relatively unexplored, and although Indian GDP growth has been slowing, the country has been seeing a large expansion in high net worth individuals. India is reckoned to have some 250,000 U.S. dollar millionaires, and Christie’s is betting that more will want to put some of that money into art.

The research firm Euromonitor has indicated that India is now the world’s most dynamic luxury goods market with expected growth in the sector during the next five years expected to be an astonishing 86 percent – an even faster rate than China’s projected 72 percent growth. These two are followed by Brazil (31 percent) and Russia (28 percent). Indian buyers have been active in auctions in London and New York, prompting Christie’s to hold its first India auction.

Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates comments, “We have seen the trend of increasing wealth in India for some time. Although politically the country is still awkward to deal with, in reality wealth is being created. The country is in terms of infrastructure development where China was twenty years ago, but with one difference – India has an existing middle class whereas China at that time did not. A combination of low age– the average age of a worker in India is 23 – and a vibrant existing consumer class make India one of the most attractive destinations for foreign investment at this moment.”

Christie’s also held their first auction in China earlier this year, selling a total of US$25 million in artwork, including a painting by Pablo Picasso.

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