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Nirav Modi paintings go under hammer, fetch over Rs 54 crore for income tax department

The income tax department today sold 55 of the 68 paintings put up for auction at the Saffron Art gallery in Mumbai.

The auction went on for more than two hours as bidders from across the world took part.

Dinesh Vazarini, CEO of auction house Saffron Art was the auctioneer. These paintings were seized by investigating agencies from PNB scam accused Nirav Modi.

The paintings of Nirav Modi, who is right now behind bars in the UK, were seized by the authorities as the PNB scam came to the fore.

This untitled oil on canvas painting by VS Gaitonde sold for Rs 22 crore. (Photo: ANI)

During the auction, Vazarini mentioned that there were bidders from London, New York and New Delhi and many other places who were bidding online or over the phone.

Among the paintings that went under the hammer, some of the works were by celebrated Indian painters including Raja Ravi Verma, FN Souza, Jogen Chowdhury, VS Gaitonde and Akbar Padamsee.

The prices of these paintings ranged from a few thousands to some crores. Akbar Padamsee’s painting, Grey Nude, was sold for Rs 1.5 crore while Raja Ravi Verma’s oil on canvas from 1881 fetched Rs 14 crore.

Most of the paintings were sold within the estimate that was drawn by the agency and the auctioning house. An exquisite oil on canvas piece by artist VS Gaitonde did not have an estimate price written but was finally sold for Rs 22 crore.

Out of 68 paintings, there were a few that did not get sold as not even a single person bid on them though they were for just a few lakhs.

Out of the 13 unsold paintings, some were chinese paintings like that of Miao Xiaochun’s piece from 2009.

The Chinese paintings that did get bids were sold much above the estimate put up by the department and auction house.

For every painting sold, a GST of 12 per cent was added along with the auctioning houses’ 15 per cent commission.

Three days is given to the winners to hand over 10 per cent of the total amount to reserve the painting in their name while these winning bidders get 30 days to pay the full amount.

If this amount is not paid then the bidding is cancelled and the deposit gets seized. Many who had come to witness the bidding at the auction house bid for a few paintings while there were a few who also came only to “see a live auction”. However most of those who came, refused to speak to the media.

A petition that has been filed by Nirav Modi’s company Camelot Enterprises against the paintings’ auction will come up for hearing in the Bombay High Court on Wednesday.

The company states that only some of the 68 paintings belongs to them, not all and thus the auctioning should be stayed.

The Income Tax department was expected to recover approximately Rs 97 crore from the auction but managed to get only Rs 54.84 crore.


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