Reuters reminds us that the Taj hotel in Mumbai was the repository of a huge trove of Indian art, including many works by M.F. Husain. Ratan Tata, owner of the hotel, has pledge to return it to its former glory and Husain has offered to pitch in as well. But the damage is immense:
“The important thing is just picking up every broken piece and fragment,” Dhar said.”For the cleaning crews this may not be a priority. But it is important there are people in there that understand their value and see how much can be salvaged.” [ . . . ]
The hotel, where gunmen took scores of guests hostage and battled commandos last month, includes some of the finest examples of modern and contemporary Indian art, including three large M.F. Husain panels commissioned for the main lobby.
There are also sculptures, chandeliers, photographs, and visitors’ books signed by kings, rock stars, business barons and heads of state.
“Nearly everything in there is of some value. Of great financial value for sure, but also of sentimental value as it is connected with the history of the hotel and this country,” said Sanjay Dhar, a senior vice president at auction house Osian’s.
Husain, arguably India’s best-known artist, is reported to have offered to paint again for the hotel, which began collecting contemporary art at a time when other Indian hotels were content with colonial-era hunting scenes and stern portraits of royalty. [ . . . ]
The Taj art collection is a roll-call of India’s biggest names from the 1960s to now, including V.S. Gaitonde, Jamini Roy, Krishen Khanna, Laxman Shrestha, S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Jehangir Sabavala, Anjolie Ela Menon and Bose Krishnamachari.