Heritage furniture from Chandigarh once again went under the hammer and was auctioned for around Rs 96 lakh at the Philips Auction House in UK. Three out of the 10 items of furniture designed by Pierre Jeanneret that were up for auction found takers.
A demountable coffee table was auctioned for 47500 pounds, while a pair of committee chairs was auctioned for 25,000 pounds. Another pair of committee armchairs was also sold for 25,000 pounds. The items that dated between 1953 and 1956 were from Panjab University and the high court.
There have been a spate of auctions of heritage furniture in auction houses in various countries since 2007. The UT Administration has been unable to stall these auctions. Though attempts were made earlier by sending communications to the auction houses, the administration was informed that the auction houses had purchased these items from dealers and had all the requisite receipts.
The auctions have fetched the auction houses millions. Most of these items had been sold as scrap in Chandigarh, not fetching more than a few thousand rupees. After realising the value of the items, the UT Administration had prepared an inventory of the heritage items that are still present in Chandigarh. An audit was also ordered to be conducted in all departments.
Meanwhile, advocate Ajay Jagga gave a representation to UT Adviser Vijay Dev for the registration of an FIR for inquiry into sale or auction of heritage furniture. Jagga said, “The administration has not taken any action in the sale of heritage furniture even when it has been going on for years. Only writing once to the auction houses was not enough. The Centre should have been approached for help. I will be making a complaint in CBI as well.”
He added that investigation should be done in whether the persons who bought the furniture had business visas and how they managed to buy so many articles.