If you do a simple web search for art auction houses, the name that is bound to be in every list is Sotheby's. Generally known amongst connoisseurs as one of the largest art brokers in the world, this auctioning house hosts and caters to the crème de la crème of all that is art. As the fourth edition of the Dhaka Art Summit 2018 has kicked off, Sotheby's visiting international team gave a glimpse of this wondrous dimension of art auctioning.
Gaurav Bhatia, Managing Director from India, and Yamini Mehta, International Head of South Asian Art, who are part of the team, talked with gusto about this auction house that was founded in 1744. It can be mentioned here that Sotheby's is the oldest listed company on the New York Stock Exchange. As an auction house, it not only includes painting and sculptures (which are the commonly understood art forms) but also classic cars, jewellery, antique pieces among many of the fascinating collectibles that intrigue the people.
Most of their auctions are the output of six months of preparation and research. Even with economic ups and downs, the team strives to reach for the best market and deliver to the top tier collectors. But of course, on the rare occasion, some pieces do not find a new home in one try. Regarding that, Mehta said, “Tastes change, and the best part of it that they make a comeback.”
Auctioning is on its own a procedure that requires strength of will. Bhatia and Mehta both agree that it is a dynamic and emotional process for the people who want a beautiful piece of art to find its new home.
Talking about their recent, most-highlighted project, they mentioned De-Luxe Tailors, of the greatest works by Bhupen Khakhar ever to come to the market. It should be mentioned that Bhupen Khakhar is one of the most well known Indian artists in the western world. At 1.4 MM USD (1.1 MM GBP), it was sold at Sotheby's in October 2017 from the prestigious Howard Hodgkin's estate.
Regarding the Art Summit itself, Yamini Mehta said, “It is wonderful to see the art scene is developing here. This Art Summit is now a showcase for all of south Asia. There are so many discoveries to be made by the visitors.”
As a first time visitor, Gaurav Bhatia shared with zeal. “This is my first visit and I am blown away! The Summit is intelligent, immersive and strives to inspire. I will be going away with so much,” he said. He also added, “It is tightly curated and my whole hearted thanks goes out to Nadia and Rajeeb. I am most definitely coming back again; a single visit can never be enough.”
Mehta and Bhatia mentioned that it is a two-way street for the Bangladeshi art scene in terms of international auction houses. Just as Sotheby's work to curate art from this region, this region's collectors too have to reach out to Sotheby's. Art auctioning is, by itself, an almost unchartered territory for the Bangladeshi art collectors and artists. As part of the urban, globalised, and cosmopolitan scenario, creating art and collecting art through auctions are bound to have their own space in due time. For more on Sotheby's, visit www.sothebys.com
Iris Farina is a Feature Writer of Lifestyle, The Daily Star.