Too late? After auction house says ‘sold’,UT to probe auction of Le Corbusier drawings

After its eleventh-hour notice to Artcurial,the French auction house,failed to stall the auction of rare drawings by Le Corbusier in Paris,the UT Administration has constituted a committee to inquire into the sale of the antiques.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: February 19, 2010 5:09:16 am

After its eleventh-hour notice to Artcurial,the French auction house,failed to stall the auction of rare drawings by Le Corbusier in Paris,the UT Administration has constituted a committee to inquire into the sale of the antiques. These included wooden carvings of Le Corbusier’s pencil sketches of the city’s glorious landmarks,crafted by Giani Rattan Singh.

Though the website of Artcurial lists an item-wise detail of the auction and the prices paid (which run into several crores),UT officials say they are yet to confirm from the French authorities whether the auction took place or not. The Administration had issued a notice to Artcurial on February 16 (the day of auction) asking it to stall the sale,and has already announced legal action “if the auction was held”.

The inquiry committee is headed by Secretary (Urban Planning) Sanjay Kumar who has sent letters to the French authorities asking for the details of the auction. Also,Chief Architect Sumit Kaur has been directed to check all the records and items related to Le Corbusier present in the city.

In another interesting theory floating in the Administration circles,officials claim there are chances of the items being duplicate. The committee will also inquire into the authenticity of the items put on auction.

If the items were original,legal action would be sought against all those responsible for the auction. But in case they were duplicate or replicas,the Le Corbusier Foundation in France would be intimated.

On Tuesday,a notice was sent by Sanjay Kumar through e-mail,fax as well as by post to the director of the auction house,Nicolas Orlowski,in Paris. The Administration,in the notice,claimed that “the carvings and drawings are a property of Chandigarh Government”,and requested to stop the auction immediately till further investigations and not sell the items without the government’s prior approval.

A copy of the notice has also been sent to the Indian Ambassador at Paris,the French Ambassador at Delhi and Director,Foundation of Le Corbusier,Paris.

In the notice,the Administration also said “…they (the items) are the properties of Chandigarh Government and we have never handed over these items to anybody. There can be a situation where either these items have been stolen or they have been duplicated. We are looking into these aspects.”

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