The work of the late Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain–M. F. Husain, for short–proved to be absolutely dominant at Christie’s South Asian modern and contemporary art sale in New York yesterday, with all 13 of his works on offer selling, for a total of $4.2 million, more than half the auction’s $7.38 million haul.
Not surprisingly, the most expensive painting in the evening was by Husain. His undated Sparkling Horses, which stretches more than seven feet long, grabbed the top slot, selling for $1.14 million against an unlisted estimate.
Husain died in June of this at the age of 95. He had been living in London, having left India in the middle of last decade to escape from death threats from radical Hindu groups and legal complications stemming from his controversial portrayal of Hindu deities without clothes and in positions that some perceived to be sexual. Long a towering figure in South Asian art, he was sometimes referring to as “Picasso of India.”
The sale as a whole notched a decent 69 percent sell-through rate by lot and an 82 percent rate by value, which improved over last year’s figures of 61 and 62 percent for the sale, respectively. However, despite offering five more lots (111 to 106), the auction failed to eclipse–albeit just barely–last year’s $7.54 million haul.
“As a tribute to the late Maqbool Fida Husain, we were thrilled to have offered 13 modern works by him,” Hugo Weihe, Christie’s international head of Asian art, said in a statement.