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Auctioned items were sold by Giani Rattan Singh and his son: Artcurial

Paris-based auction house Artcurial has informed the Chandigarh Administration that the wooden carvings auctioned last month were acquired from Giani Rattan Singh and his son Jaswinder Singh several years ago.

Written by Khushboo Sandhu | Chandigarh |
March 18, 2010 2:29:00 am

Paris-based auction house Artcurial has informed the Chandigarh Administration that the wooden carvings auctioned last month were acquired from Giani Rattan Singh and his son Jaswinder Singh several years ago.

On February 16,Artcurial had auctioned wooden carvings,drawings and sketches of Chandigarh’s monuments made by Le Corbusier during the construction of the city. The wooden carvings,designed by Corbusier,were made by craftsman Giani Rattan Singh.

Replying to the notices rushed by the Administration on the day of the auction,Artcurial has stated that they have photos of Giani Rattan Singh’s family posing with the acquired items and that the “bills were available with the buyers”.

After hearing about the auction,the Administration had sent several notices to the auction house,asking it to stop the auction. Copies of the notices were sent to the French Embassy in New Delhi,the Indian Embassy in Paris and the Director of Le Corbusier Foundation. But the auction was held as scheduled.

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The notice sent to Artcurial had stated,“It is not known how these items have reached you,as they are the property of the Chandigarh government. We had never handed over these items to anybody. There can be a situation that these items were either stolen,or were replicas.”

In its reply,the auction house has stated that the wooden carvings have been auctioned in Chicago and New York “without any problem”. While the reply mentions how the wooden carvings were acquired,it is silent on the sketches and paintings.

This was the second such auction held by Artcurial after ‘Chandigarh Project I’ in 2006.

Committee to probe ‘sale’
In a letter to Administration,the first Indian chief architect of Chandigarh,M N Sharma,has demanded a probe into how such precious drawings were sold.

An official of the Administration said,“A committee has been constituted. We are looking into the old records to ascertain whether the drawings and sketches were borrowed from the Department of Architecture. Details will become clear once the probe is over.”

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