Mumbai : The epic work of artist Francis Newton Souza, the ‘Birth’, was sold for a mind-boggling $4.08 million, breaking own record of $ 2.5 million at the Christies’ auctions last night in New York. Christie’s had been conducting the auctions of South Asian modern and contemporary art in New York and London for many years now and had put on block the ‘Birth’. “Francis Newton Souza’s (1924-2002) epic work ‘Birth’ held the previous world auction record price for a work by the artist – set at Christie’s in 2008 for $ 2.5 million. The latest record is an increase of 63 per cent, establishing the new world auction record for the artist at USD 4.08 million,” Christie’s said in a statement, reports PTI.
The present owner of the ‘Birth’ is Anil Ambani’s wife Tina Ambani-run Harmony Arts Foundation which had bought it for $2.5 million at a 2008 Christie’s auction. Even at that, it was the highest price fetched by the artist’s work at an auction ever.
But last week, another work by Souza, ‘Man and Woman Laughing’, snatched the top spot by commanding a $2.59 million at Saffronart’s 15th anniversary auction held in New Delhi. The late Souza painted the masterpiece in 1955, the same year of his seminal solo exhibition at Gallery One in London. His other works include ‘the pregnant outstretched nude with hairpins’, ‘the autobiographical man in a priest’s tunic’, ‘a still life on the window ledge and beyond the window’, ‘a townscape with corniced buildings and tall steeples’. These works carried a price tag of $2.2-2.8 million. The auction also included a rare early work on card by Vasudeo S Gaitonde (1924-2001). Gaitonde received an unprecedented posthumous acclaim by setting a world auction record for any Indian modern painting in Christie’s first auction in India, at $ 2.5 million.
Others included Syed Haider Raza’s untitled Cityscape with an estimated price of $ 4,50,000-6,00,000; Ram Kumar’s untitled ‘Couple’ likely to fetch $60,000-80,000; Akbar Padamsee’s work, Manjit Bawa’s (1941-2008) among others.
Christie’s is the world’s leading art business; global auction and private sales in the first half of 2015 totalled $4.5 billion. In 2014, Christie’s had global auction and private sales that totalled $8.4 billion, making it the highest annual total in Christie’s history.
Christie’s has a global presence with 54 offices in 32 countries and 12 sale rooms around the world including London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong and Mumbai.