Colin Gleadell looks at the financial acumen behind Charles Saatchi’s Indian art buys in the Telegraph as the collector’s new show of Indian Contemporary art opens in London:
So what has been the effect on Saatchi’s investment? For one thing, this is a collection that was largely formed two years ago – just before the boom peaked, but without the advantage of buying in a downturn. It is unlikely that the top prices paid at auction would be recovered at this moment. Atul Dodiya’s decorative painting Woman of Kabul (2001) cost $156,000 when it was bought in May 2008 – not a record, but above the high estimate. However, since September 2008, hardly any of the more expensive works by Dodiya offered at auction have sold.
In the same sale, Saatchi bought a painting of kitchen pots by India’s most highly rated young artist, Subodh Gupta, for a triple estimate and record $646,000. In the months that followed, several Gupta paintings and sculptures broke the $1 million mark at auction. Sellers looking to cash in during the autumn of 2008, though, were disappointed when the majority of his works at auction went unsold.
In contrast, where he bought new work direct from galleries in the early stages of boom, and was able to negotiate prices, Saatchi appears to be in profit. In 2007, for instance, he bought a set of three photographic collages by Pakistani artist Rashid Rana. Made up of tiny pornographic photographs, the collages were arranged to look from a distance like a veil, a symbol of modesty. The price for the set, direct from Rana’s gallery, was about $20,000. In June last year, in spite of recessionary conditions, another example from the edition of 20 sold for £61,000 at Sotheby’s.
Will Saatchi’s Investment in Indian Art Payoff? (Telegraph)