WHILE CHANDIGARH is observing UT’s first architect’s 50th death anniversary, the articles designed by him went under the hammer at an auction held at the USA on Saturday. As many as seven items, all designed by Pierre Jeanneret, were auctioned at Oak Park, Illinois in the USA for a whopping amount of Rs 24 lakh. In the auction, one easy armchair designed for the administrative building went for $6000 while two office cane chairs designed by the architect for the Panjab University went for $2,000 and 4,000 respectively.
Similarly, a writing chair designed for the Chandigarh administrative building went for $2500 and three more easy armchairs, designed by the architect for the Chandigarh administrative building went for $ 6,000, 4,000 and 3,500. There have been no end to auctions of the Chandigarh heritage furniture abroad. Few days ago, a dining table designed by Jeanneret went for Rs 22.56 lakh at an auction held in the USA. Earlier this month, two lounge chairs from Panjab University, designed by Jeanneret, were sold for Rs 1.14 crore at an auction, yet again in the USA.
On Jeanneret’s 50th death anniversary (March 22, 1896 – December 4, 1967), the Chandigarh College of Architecture organised a symposium ‘Pierre Jeanneret, The Foot Architect of Chandigarh’ (December 3 and 4) to commemorate his legacy. The members of heritage protection committee had stated that the best tribute to the architect would have been if the administration had made some efforts to stop these auctions.
Recently, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) wrote to the Punjab government to initiate action under conduct rules against their official N P S Randhawa, former museum director, for his alleged transactions with a businessman accused of antique smuggling of furniture from Chandigarh.
Punjab Local Bodies and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had written to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asking him to dismiss the official. Sidhu had told that the vigilance department is with the Chief Minister and it is he who can order an inquiry into the case. Till now nothing has been done.