Kishore Singh has lunch with Neville Tuli of Osian’s in India. They discuss the market for Indian antiquities which has government constraints. Singh claims to have more than $200 million worth of art and memorabilia that the company owns itself:
There’s nothing that angers him as much as accusations about the health of the organisation. “Osian’s,” he glowers into his plate, “has one of the largest collections in the world, of 265,000 original art works and memorabilia owned by us. It’s worth Rs 800-1,000 crore. It’s because of that we have been able to do what we have done, and we’ve sold barely 2,000 works from that collection (at auctions, to fund our ventures).”
Tuli also estimates the Indian antiquities held in the country at $1 billion in value. More important, he feels there is far more outside of the country. As India’s wealth grows, the desire to repatriate that patrimony should grow too:
According to Tuli, the antiquities market at Rs 5,000 crore (arrived at on the basis of an estimate of what 1,000 families possess) should yield the government revenue worth Rs 500 crore, “which is why the legislative process must be pushed”, he says. “Ironically, the laws are complicit in encouraging smuggling,” he says, and the only way out might be to “revisit an amnesty scheme”. While it might still be difficult to auction antiques from India in India, “the amount of Indian art outside the country is phenomenal”, and with buyers in India eager to invest in their own heritage, Osian’s has already planned six auctions of antiques over the next year.
Lunch with BS: Neville Tuli (Business Standard)