Under the hammer

In the first week of March Mumbai based art auction house, Saffronart, will be hosting two auctions featuring the seized assets of fugitive jeweller, Nirav Modi, on behalf of the

Minal1

“Given the vast number of lots, we have curated the sale to provide bidders with the best platform,” says Minal Vazirani.

Enforcement Directorate, Government of India. While on sale will be the art, of course, this sale will also include cars, watches and handbags. The handbags are a first in India. The auctions will mark the first time that a professional auction house has been appointed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to conduct an auction of seized assets in India. This appointment comes a year after Saffronart successfully auctioned Modi’s seized paintings on behalf of the Income Tax Department in March 2019, which raised Rs54.84 crore. Of course, this is a big honour for the home-grown auction house.

An online auction on Saffronart’s platform on March 3 and 4, will be followed by a live auction in Mumbai on March 5,  2020. Collectively, the two auctions will feature 15 artworks by significant modern and contemporary Indian artists. The remaining 25 lots comprise rare watches, difficult to acquire handbags, and a Rolls-Royce Ghost.

The remaining 72 luxury collectibles will be auctioned on 3-4 March in Saffronart’s 24-hour Spring Online Auction, allowing bidders’ sufficient time to make an informed decision. “Given the vast number of lots, we have curated the sales in order to provide bidders with the best platform for each collection,” says Minal Vazirani, president and co-founder, Saffronart.

Highlights of the auctions include a 1935 masterpiece by Amrita Sher-Gil which has never been auctioned previously (estimate: Rs12-18 crore); a significant oil on canvas by M.F.Husain from his ‘Mahabharata’ series (estimate: Rs12-18 crore); a serene blue painting by V.S.Gaitonde from 1972 (estimate: Rs7-9 crore); and a vivid red depiction of Krishna by Manjit Bawa (estimate: Rs3-5 crore). Important watches going on sale include a Jaeger Lecoultre Men’s ‘Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2’ Limited Edition wristwatch, and a Gerrard Perregaux Men’s ‘Opera One’ wristwatch. Of more than 80 branded handbags included in the auction, several are from the Birkin and Kelly lines by luxury retailer Hermès.

After seeing the results of the auction held by the Income Tax department in March 2019, the ED decided to follow a similar path and auction off Modi’s assets to recover their dues. A tender was floated and all the art auction houses were invited to bid – Astaguru, Christie’s, Pundole, Saffronart and Sotheby’s. The criteria the auction houses had to meet were based on – that they should be able to conduct a live auction of the goods, the turnover of the auction house, and the auction house should have subject speciality, or understanding of the subject.

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So going by the criteria, with regards to the knowledge and understanding of the subject matter – all the auction houses have the prerequisite knowledge of art. While Christie’s, Pundole, Saffronart and Sotheby’s all conduct live auctions, Astaguru is the only auction house that conducts only online auctions. According to the turnover criteria, Saffronart and Astaguru met the criteria. As far as watches and cars go, while Astaguru has conducted these auctions, Saffronart and Pundole have dealt with these in a limited way. It was a close contest between the auction houses.

Auction houses always try to create a diverse auction market by introducing new categories at auction. This allows bidders to discover rare or limited edition objects and collectibles. Saffronart has held several auctions in the past which have featured luxury collectibles including cars and bags. Among these sales, Saffronart has auctioned a 1961 Pontiac Laurentian, an art car by artist Bose Krishnamachari and a diamond-studded minaudiere by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Handbag auctions fall under the secondary handbag market. According to Alexandra Kindermann, senior communications director, Christie’s – EMEA & Israel, the London based art auction house holds over 50 per cent of the secondary handbag market, which includes auctions and vintage shops offerings. At the Christie’s November 2019 auction held in London, the global demand for vintage and limited-edition handbags was underlined by the participation of buyers from 42 countries from six continents. The growing demand in their handbag auction is underlined by the fact that the auction was sold 100 per cent. Over 2019 each handbag auction (twice a year in London, New York and Hong Kong) welcomed one out of three new clients. While Christie’s clients are looking for rare and limited-edition pieces, with Hermès being the leading brand, followed by Chanel and Louis Vuitton. In fact, the most expensive Hermes bag sold was the matte white Himalaya Niloti crocodile Birkin with 205 diamonds at the 2017 auction for UK Pounds 292,188. In fact, according to Kindermann, recently the auction house has seen increasing interest and demand for archival Gucci and Dior bags.

While luxury handbags are a big hit at overseas auctions, this is the first time that this category will be auctioned in India. According to Saffronart’s Vazirani, with just under 70 pieces on offer, this is the largest selection of luxury designer bags and luggage to be auctioned in India. The two auctions include several Birkin and Kelly handbags by luxury retailer Hermès, as well as brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Celine – brands which are some of the most coveted internationally.

There is an air of mystery around the Hermes Birkin bags. According to The Quartz, unlike most fashion items, the Hermes Birkin bag, inspired by actress Jane Birkin, is viewed more as a collectable than an accessory. According to the online magazine, Hermes does not report how many Birkin bags it makes a year, which helps maintain the mystery of exclusivity. The retail price of a Birkin bag ranges anywhere between $10,000 – 200,000. With prices set between Rs3 lakh – Rs7 lakh ($2,800 – $7,500) for the Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags at the current auction, these bags are a steal. It will be interesting to see the benchmarks this new category will set for the Indian market.

Top Ten ever!

Sale Year Sale Title Catalogue Description Maker High Estimate (GBP) Low Estimate (GBP) Price Realised  (GBP)
2017 Handbags & Accessories AN EXCEPTIONAL, MATTE WHITE HIMALAYA NILOTICUS CROCODILE DIAMOND BIRKIN 30 WITH 18K WHITE GOLD & DIAMOND HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2014 CONDITION REPORT GRADE: 1 30 W X 22 H X 15 D CM HARDWARE FEATURING 205 F-G COLOR, VVS CLARITY DIAMOND FOR A TOTAL DIAMOND CARAT WEIGHT OF 10.23 SET IN 176.3G 18K WHITE GOLD. INCLUDES CLOCHETTE, LOCK, KEYS, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, LEATHER POUCH, RIBBON, SMALL BOX AND BOX HERMÈS, 2014 £198,768 £149,076 £292,188
2017 Handbags & Accessories AN EXCEPTIONAL, MATTE WHITE NILOTICUS CROCODILE HIMALAYA BIRKIN 30 WITH 18K WHITE GOLD & DIAMOND HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2011 CONDITION REPORT GRADE: 1 30 W X 20 H X 15 D CM INCLUDES CLOCHETTE, LOCK, KEYS, FELT PROTECTOR, RAIN COVER, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUST BAG, DUSTBAG, BOX AND DIAMOND CERTIFICATE. HERMÈS, 2011 £191,957 £143,968 £286,016
2016 Handbags & Accessories AN EXCEPTIONAL, ONE-OF-A-KIND SET OF 8 LEATHER FOREVER STAR BAGS A SHINY BUBBLEGUM PINK 5P LIZARD MICRO MINI BIRKIN WITH18YG HARDWARE, 21.6G 18K GOLD A SHINY BLEU ROI LIZARD MICRO MINI BOLIDE WITH 18KYG HARDWARE, 10.96G 18K GOLD A SHINY GERANIUM ALLIGATOR MICRO MINI CONSTANCE WITH 18K YELLOW GOLD HARDWARE, 61.1G 18K GOLD A SHINY ORANGE & GERANIUM ALLIGATOR AND ROUGE H LIZARD MICRO MINI FACO WITH 18KYG HARDWARE, 5.1G 18K GOLD A SHINY BOUGAINVILLIER LIZARD MICRO MINI FARMING WITH 18KYG HARDWARE, 10.7G 18K GOLD A SHINY VERT PELOUSE ALLIGATOR MICRO MINI KELLY WITH 18K YELLOW GOLD HARDWARE, 20.58G 18K GOLD A SHINY BLEU SAPHIR ALLIGATOR MICRO MINI ROULIS WITH 18KYG HARDWARE A SHINY BLEU MYKONOS LIZARD MICRO MINI TOOLBOX WITH 18K YELLOW GOLD HARDWARE, 45.1G 18K GOLD HERMÈS, 2014/2015 CONDITION REPORT GRADE: 1 15 W X 11 H X 5 D CM / 11 W X 11 H X 5 D CM / 15 W X 11 H X 6 D CM / 14 W X 12 H X 4 D CM / 14 W X 11 H X 7 D CM / 13 W X 12 H X 4 D CM / 14 W X 10 H X 3 D CM / 11 W X 11 H X 8 D CM INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX; INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX; INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX ; INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX; INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX; INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX; INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX; INCLUDES FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, RIBBON AND BOX HERMÈS, 2014/2015 £312,533 £208,355 £256,277
2018 Handbags & Accessories A RARE & EXCEPTIONAL, MATTE HIMALAYA NILOTICUS CROCODILE DIAMOND BIRKIN 35 WITH 18K WHITE GOLD & DIAMOND HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2010 GRADE: 1.5 35 W X 25 H X 18 D CM FEATURING APPROXIMATELY 170 G OF 18K WHITE GOLD AND APPROXIMATELY 10 CTS OF BRILLIANT, COLOURLESS DIAMONDS INCLUDES LOCK, KEYS, CLOCHETTE, SMALL DUSTBAG AND DUSTBAG HERMÈS, 2010 £150,000 £100,000 £236,750
2019 Handbags & Accessories AN EXCEPTIONAL, MATTE WHITE HIMALAYA NILOTICUS CROCODILE DIAMOND BIRKIN 30 WITH 18K WHITE GOLD & DIAMOND HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2011 GRADE: 1 30 W X 22 H X 15 D CM INCLUDES CLOCHETTE, LOCK, KEYS, FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, DIAMOND CERTIFICATE, RAIN PROTECTOR, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, BOX AND RIBBON FEATURING 245 DIAMONDS, TOTAL WEIGHT 10.78 CTS CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS, ANNEXE CITES II-B HERMÈS, 2011 £151,714 £101,143 £202,286
2019 Handbags & Accessories A RARE, MATTE WHITE HIMALAYA NILOTICUS CROCODILE RETOURNÉ KELLY 25 WITH PALLADIUM HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2019 GRADE: 1 25 W X 18 H X 9 D CM INCLUDES CLOCHETTE, LOCK, KEYS, FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, RAIN PROTECTOR, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG AND BOX CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS, ANNEXE CITES II-B HERMÈS, 2019 £79,594 £59,696 £149,239
2017 Handbags & Accessories AN EXCEPTIONAL, SHINY BLACK POROSUS CROCODILE DIAMOND BIRKIN 25 WITH 18K WHITE GOLD & DIAMOND HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2011 CONDITION REPORT GRADE: 1 25 W X 20 H X 13 D CM INCLUDES CLOCHETTE, LOCK, KEYS, FELT PROTECTOR, LEATHER CARD, RAIN COVER, RIBBON, SMALL DUSTBAG, DUSTBAG, DIAMOND CERTIFICATE AND BOX. HERMÈS, 2011 £143,968 £95,979 £179,960
2019 Handbags & Accessories A RARE, LIMITED EDITION MATTE BLACK NILOTICUS CROCODILE SO BLACK BIRKIN 30 WITH BLACK PVD HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2010 GRADE: 1.5 30 W X 22 H X 15 D CM INCLUDES CLOCHETTE, LOCK, KEYS, BLACK FELT PROTECTOR, EXOTIC CARD, BLACK DUSTBAG AND BLACK BOX CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS, ANNEXE CITES II-B HERMÈS, 2010 £50,571 £40,457 £164,357
2018 Handbags & Accessories A RARE, MATTE WHITE HIMALAYA NILOTICUS CROCODILE RETOURNÉ KELLY 28 WITH PALLADIUM HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2015 GRADE: 1 28 W X 21 H X 10 D CM INCLUDES LOCK, KEYS, CLOCHETTE, SHOULDER STRAP, TWO SMALL DUSTBAGS, EXOTIC CARD, FELT PROTECTOR, RAIN PROTECTOR, DUSTBAG AND BOX CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS, ANNEXE CITES II-B HERMÈS, 2015 £80,588 £60,441 £163,695
2018 Handbags & Accessories AN EXCEPTIONAL, MATTE WHITE HIMALAYA NILOTICUS CROCODILE DIAMOND BIRKIN 30 WITH 18K WHITE GOLD & DIAMOND HARDWARE HERMÈS, 2008 GRADE: 2 30 W X 22 H X 15 D CM  INCLUDES LOCK, KEYS, CLOCHETTE AND DUSTBAG CROCODYLUS NILOTICUS, ANNEXE CITES II-B ~ THIS LOT IS SUBJECT TO CITES EXPORT/IMPORT RESTRICTIONS. THE LOT CAN ONLY BE SHIPPED TO ADDRESSES WITHIN THE EUROPEAN UNION OR COLLECTED FROM OUR LONDON KING STREET SALEROOM. PLEASE REFER TO THE “CONDITIONS OF SALE” AND CONTACT THE DEPARTMENT FOR FURTHER DETAILS. HERMÈS, 2008 £150,000 £100,000 £162,500

Source: Christie’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

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