Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Chandigarh: The Auctioneer Replies

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Chandigarh’s treasures keep selling well. Several went several times above their estimate at the last Wright auction on 31 March (hammer price of $88,900 for the Pierre Jeanneret sofa below). Answering to the attempts by the government of India to have the items removed from the auction, and the controversy surrounding their sale, Wright has put a statement on their website.

The note is quite informative. According to Wright, and this is not really a surprise, the government of India just a few years back left the furniture decaying and sold it at local auctions. French dealers (we think Eric Touchaleaume is one of them) bought some of the furniture back and restored it. Wright also claim the moral high ground – a more dubious argument in our view – when arguing India did not take steps to recognize the furniture as art treasures, while collectors and auction houses actually support their preservation. The note does not say if there have been attempts by India to buy the furniture back at a fair price that would cover the costs incurred by those who salvaged the furniture.

The good faith of dealers does not seem in doubt, and the sellers may have the law on their side. You could argue the same of the Elgin marbles too, but is not the rightful place of the Jeanneret furniture in India rather than in the home of a billionaire?

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Written by Alvar and I

April 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

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