A staff members checks the frame of Raja Ravi Varma's, "The Maharaja of Travancore and his youger brother welcoming Richard Temple-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, Governor-General of Madras (1875-80), on his official visit to Trivandram in 1880," during a media preview at the Saffron art gallery in Mumbai on Monday. AFP
MUMBAI: Indian tax authorities are hoping for a windfall with the auction on Tuesday of rare oil paintings that were once part of fugitive billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi's collection and have been seized by the government.
Auctioneers say the sale is the first of its kind in a country where tax authorities have usually auctioned property, gold and luxury items, but not art.
After a court order allowing the auction to take place, tax authorities, who are pursuing Modi over the country's largest bank fraud, appointed professional auction house Saffronart.
The sale in Mumbai of some 68 works is expected to fetch anywhere between 300 million and 500 million rupees ($4.4 million-$7.3 million).
"Until a few years ago, the tax authorities really didn't know the value of art," said Farah Siddiqui, an art adviser who is advising clients eyeing Modi's collection.
The 48-year-old Modi, whose diamonds have sparkled on Hollywood stars, is one of the prime accused in a $2 billion loan fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank. Modi denies the charges and believes they are politically motivated.
The auction comes just weeks before a national election and as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces pressure to bring back Nirav Modi (no relation), who fled the country last year and has been residing in the United Kingdom.
He was arrested last week by British authorities and remanded in custody after he appeared before a London court. India asked Britain last August to extradite Modi.
The auction includes works by Raja Ravi Varma, a 19th century painter considered among India's finest, and V.S. Gaitonde, a modern artist known for his abstract and often monochromatic paintings.
"We believe that the collection's intrinsic value will garner a positive response from collectors," said Saffronart Chief Executive Dinesh Vazirani.
India Law Alliance, a law firm representing the company controlled by Modi that owns the artwork, said it was challenging the court order that allowed the auction. The case will be heard by the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, a lawyer at the firm told Reuters. Vijay Aggarwal, a lawyer for Modi, declined to comment.
Kapoor passed away on Wednesday night due to age-related issues, Ritambhara, one of his daughters, told IANS.
Ahead of the fourth quarter results of the IT heavyweights Infosys and TCS, and key macro data release, major equity indices ended the week on a higher note led by gains in banking stocks. The BSE Sensex closed 160.10 points or 0.41 per cent higher at 38,767.11. The broader Nifty finished 46.75 points or 0.40 per cent higher at 11,643.45. “Market turned positive despite a weak rupee as investors
Torrential downpours have swept away homes, triggered landslides and claimed at least 180 lives across South Asia.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes and no claim of responsibility, two police officers said. A number of Shi'ite Muslim militant groups have offices and supporters in eastern Baghdad.
Both had pleaded not guilty to charges of violating the official secrets act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. "Three years each, no hard labour," said the source, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Chanting the same "Women, life, freedom!" mantra used in demonstrations in Iran, about 25 Afghan women protested in front of the Iranian embassy in Kabul, before being dispersed by Taliban forces firing in the air, an AFP correspondent reported.