Are online auctions a fresh opportunity for art lovers?
Is online auction the in thing? “In many ways, yes,” says Sunaina Aanand of Art Alive Gallery, “With online auction, people need an expert to analyse the work, read its description before buying it. At the same time, those who cannot be physically present at the auction site, can see a variety of art works and buy them at a price they can afford.”
Meher Dhada of Bid and Hammer differs, “It’s not that. We recently did our live auction in Bangalore and sold Souza’s Seated Nude for Rs.15,50,000, Kshitindranath Mazumdar’s ‘Death of Mirabai’ at 13,00,000, “Lady” by Gulab Shete for Rs.6,75,000, Paresh Maity’s ink on paper for Rs.2,90,000, Jai Zharotia’s acrylic on canvas at Rs.2,70,000, many more works, both known and unknown. People prefer to come and view the works which give them a chance to interact with many knowledgeable people at the auction site.”
As for the fall in prices, Sunaina says, “We cannot exactly say that the art prices fell, but for sure, they didn’t see the hike they saw last year.” She points out “tight money market” as the reason. “When shares and property rates don’t hike up, it’s bound to affect the economy and it has its own affect on art. But I don’t think it is a worrying situation because our economy is going through a fluctuating situation. If it had been really booming minus the art prices, then it would have been a thing to worry about.”<252>Adds Dhada, “The art prices did not go down but those who had artificially jacked up their prices saw bad days. Now a correction phase is on wherein such artists have realised that it is not easy to manipulate and inflate the prices. This correction phase will continue.”<252>So, those really worried about the art price may feel assured it is a passing phase. “We anyway are undervalued as compared to the international market. An average upper middle class in India spends up to Rs.7 lakh for a good work of art which goes maximum up to Rs.20 lakhs.” He opines that a time will come when Indian art prices would be comparable to international market.