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Merrill Lynch, Capgemini Report Increased Investment in Indian Art

M.F. Hussain

The recession has struck India’s discretionary spending, but those who can still afford to indulge are investing in art. A new world wealth survey conducted by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini reveals art assets for individuals possessing a high net worth saw a significant increase in 2010, up to 9 percent from 6 percent the year before. These investors typically prefer to add pieces to their collections rather than investing in art funds.

“For an investor, quality matters,” explains Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and co-founder, Saffronart. “The small format works of modern artists like S.H. Raza and M.F. Hussain, or good works by mid-level modern artists like Arpita Singh and Jogen Chowdhury who have shown in the past that their works do appreciate in value, are good areas to look into.”

With a group of collectors that spares no expense and modern Indian artists such as Hussain and Raza achieving sales worth $45 million, the art market has remained strong, with both artists’ work selling last year at an average price of twice what it earned in 2005. Last month, Akbar Padamsee showed his work at the Sotheby’s New York sale, selling one painting for $1.43 million.

With the popularity of modern art at a premium and the June 9 death of Hussain, often referred to as the “Picasso of India,” fresh in buyers’ minds, the art-as-investment movement appears to be here to stay.

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