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Forgotten paintings by Indian masters FN Souza and Bhupen Kakkar sell big at Sotheby's

Forgotten paintings by Indian masters FN Souza and Bhupen Kakkar sell big at Sotheby's

Both the paintings were discovered by Sotheby's through its online pricing platform.

(Left) An FN Souza painting that had been hanging on the wall of a Michigan-based family since 1980 (when it was bought for $100) sold for 9,22,000 pounds. (Right) A painting by Bhupen Kakkar was also sold for 1.2 million pounds. Photo: Sotheby's (Left) An FN Souza painting that had been hanging on the wall of a Michigan-based family since 1980 (when it was bought for $100) sold for 9,22,000 pounds. (Right) A painting by Bhupen Kakkar was also sold for 1.2 million pounds. Photo: Sotheby's

Ever wondered if the painting hanging on your living room wall for the past few decades is of any value? May be your grandfather picked it up at an auction or to help a struggling artist and then it just became a part of your furniture. Something you look at everyday but not really see.

Well, maybe you should get it valued. You never know you may have a masterpiece hanging on your wall. A Michigan-based family had an FN Souza hanging on their living room wall which was bought by a family member in 1980 at a charity auction for just $100 in Detroit. It sold for £922,500 last night at the Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art auction in London.  

Unaware of the value of the painting they had hanging on their wall, the current owners submitted details of the work for valuation through Sotheby's online pricing platform. They were soon contacted by Sotheby's specialists who were able to reveal the importance of FN Souza's 'Landscape (Red Building)' from 1955. The estimated value was £300,000-500,000 pounds but it sold for three times more than that.  

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At the same auction, a rediscovered painting by Bhupen Kakkar, titled 'Krishna Hotel,' sold for £1.2 million, six-times the pre-auction estimate of £200,000-400,000.  

'Krishna Hotel' was sold by the American architect Christopher Benninger who had acquired the painting in the early 1970s at an auction to support Bangladeshi refugees in Ahmedabad, at the New Order bookshop. At the time, Bhupen Khakhar was still an unknown artist, but he was friends with Christopher Benninger through mutual friends at the Baroda School of Art.

The painting itself hasn't been seen in public since that auction in 1971. The Sotheby's Modern and Contemporary South Asian art auction of more than 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures made an above estimate total of £5.4 million.  

Interestingly, one-third of the buyers were below 40 years of age and 44 per cent were from India. "Collectors living in India were especially active, acquiring 70 per cent of the overall value of the auction and showing the truly global reach of Sotheby's South Asian Art sales, attracting bidders from across Europe, the States, South Asia and East Asia," explains Ishrat Kanga, Head of Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art at Sotheby's London.  

Sotheby's online pricing platform

Sotheby's launched its online pricing platform in 2017, and it allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to receive a free valuation of individual items or artworks by following a few steps on the Sotheby's website. If the artwork matches certain criteria and is considered suitable for one of Sotheby's sales channels, a Sotheby's specialist will contact you.  

The Souza is not the first time an important work of Indian art has been consigned to Sotheby's through its online pricing platform. Recently another American family made contact with Sotheby's via the platform and went on to sell five works of modern Indian art at Sotheby's New York for a total of over $3.6 million. These included two works by one of India's most important painters, VS Gaitonde that both made $1.82 million each, and three pieces by Indian modernist sculptor, Adi Davierwalla. Two of these were rediscoveries: one was being used by the family as an iPhone holder, and the other was found in a drawer. 

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