30 Jun 2008

It's a good time to buy art

As the stock market continues its downward trend, there are a number of investors turning to art as an alternate investment option. In the past, we have discussed how domestic art is rapidly emerging as an asset class. Analysts confirm that despite last year's fall in the art index, this year it has been recording spectacular returns at both international and domestic auctions.

According to the latest ArtTactic Indian art market survey, the domestic and global economic situation is having an impact on the overall sentiments in the domestic art market. Despite this, both the Modern and Indian Art Market Confidence Indicators have reached new heights, showing the continued optimism in the market. Among the domestic contemporary artists T V Santosh, N S Harsha, Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta take up the top positions.

At the recently concluded Saffronart's summer online auction 70 percent of the total lots were sold of which 66 percent were sold above their higher estimate. The sale grossed (inclusive of buyer's premium) USD 97.21 lakhs or Rs 38.88 crores. Subodh Gupta, S H Raza, Rashid Rana, and F N Souza continued their brilliant performances at this auction as well. At the upcoming Sotheby's Contemporary art auction this week, domestic artists such as Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, T V Santosh, and Anish Kapoor, and a few others will also be featured. This incidentally is not an exclusive domestic art sale but features international artists and involves names such as Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon along with a host of other established artists. The sale is offering eight works by the Indian contingent. These works are estimated to be around £2 million. In fact, Anish Kapoor's untitled sculpture alone is estimated at £1-1 .5 million. This is an interesting phase for domestic art and the results from this auction will clearly indicate how domestic artists fare in a mainstream international auction.

However, it does appear that domestic art has found widespread acceptance at a global level and investing in art might be a smart decision.

(Published in Financial Times)

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