Christie's held its first art auction in India on Thursday, aiming to tap into a budding market for prestige purchasing among the country's fast-growing ranks of millionaires despite an economic slowdown.
The inaugural sale of 83 lots in the financial hub of Mumbai featured paintings from the private collection of one of India's first families of contemporary art as well as pieces from six of the nine Indian artists deemed "national treasures" whose works cannot leave the country. Total sales added up to $16.4 million, more than double the pre-auction estimates.
The top-selling work of the evening was a mustard-hued abstract oil on canvas by Vasudeo Gaitonde, bought by an anonymous U.S. telephone bidder who paid a total of 237 million rupees ($3.8 million) — a bid that drew audible gasps and cheers when the final gavel fell at the historic Taj Mahal Palace hotel. It was a world record price for a modern Indian work of art sold in the country.