The High-Profile People

A glimpse into their art collection was a privilege of the select few. One had to be invited to Rajshree Pathy’s Delhi home to know that her dining room has a Rameshwar Broota canvas behind the Nirmala Rudra-designed table.

Written by Vandana Kalra | Published: March 29, 2009 2:14 am

A book brings together the collectors of Indian art

A glimpse into their art collection was a privilege of the select few. One had to be invited to Rajshree Pathy’s Delhi home to know that her dining room has a Rameshwar Broota canvas behind the Nirmala Rudra-designed table. And one had to fix an appointment with Sanjay Lalbhai,chairman of the Lalbhai Group,to look at the Yusuf Arakkal painting suspended on his office wall. Now Purrshottam Bhaggeria and Pavan Malhotra have brought out in a book the details of Indian artwork owned by prominent collectors. Their Elite Collectors of Modern & Contemporary Indian Art features 27 people,from Mahinder Tak in the US to Abhishek Poddar in Bangalore and Parmeshwar Godrej and Tina Ambani in Mumbai.

“We approached at least double the number of collectors mentioned in the book. A few declined and it took some effort to convince others but the rest were forthcoming,” says Malhotra,flipping through the 336-page book. Occasional typos apart,the text is laced with anecdotes and most collectors recall their first purchase. The now formidable collection of psychiatrist Mahesh Chandra started in 1978 with a Joan Miro lithograph bought in New Haven,Connecticut,for $900. Godrej narrates how MF Husain impulsively sketched a portrait of her and husband Adi on a tablecloth at a restaurant; and Ravi Akhoury,chairman of Mackay Shields,lets on that he purchased an entire collection from Gopal Ghosh when the artist needed money for his daughter’s wedding.

Some celebrated artwork is also cited. Aficionados will identify Atul Dodiya’s Three Painters from the collection of Ranbaxy Laboratories chairman Malvinder Mohan Singh. Featuring Dodiya and Bhupen Khakhar discussing a canvas,the painting came under the hammer at a 2007 Christie’s auction. There is also Masanori Fukuoka against Tyeb Mehta’s celebrated canvas Celebration that in 2002 became the first Indian painting to cross the Rs 1 crore mark. But even a peek into the elite collection does not come cheap. The limited edition of 2,000 copies comes for Rs 15,000.

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