Christie’s is holding its first art auction in India today, aiming to tap into the budding market for prestige purchasing among the country’s fast-growing ranks of millionaires. The inaugural sale of 83 lots in Mumbai features 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.
Christie’s sees the relatively underdeveloped art market in Asia’s third-largest economy as fertile ground for growth as part of its international expansion that has included recent auctions in China and the Middle East. India’s luxury goods market is forecast to grow by 86% over the next five years, followed by China at 72%, Brazil at 31% and Russia at 28%, according to the research firm Euromonitor.
Moving into prestige investments such as art is the next natural step in luxury spending, said Euromonitor’s Fflur Roberts. “The higher you go up in the scale of wealth, art is becoming increasingly more attractive,” Roberts said. “It’s an appreciation of art and that luxury of being able to buy art.”
Rajan Sehgal, who manages private banking for Indian nationals for Credit Suisse, said, “Today, art is a very important and an extremely key investment over the years, much more than real estate in some markets.” Indian buyers have been snapping up pieces at Christie’s events in London and New York, and the auction house believes the time is ripe to hold its first sale inside India, where it has had a representative office for nearly two decades.
The auction consists entirely of Indian art, but Pylkkanen, who is acting as auctioneer for the Mumbai sale, said the hope was that as India’s wealthy begin to get a taste for fine art they would also move into buying rare objects from around the world.