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Not a single work was a fake: Bid & Hammer

Not a single work was a fake Bid & HammerBengaluru, Apr 2 (PTI) Noted auction house Bid & Hammer does not favour a regulatory body for domestic art unless there is a “broad consensus” in the industry and, in fact, it would like self regulation by dealers and art gallery owners.

The auctioneers, which marked 100 years of enterprise of the Dadha group that backs the auction house, with a sale in Delhi in June last year, is planning to have a representative office in the city soon by the time of its next auction.

“Very few people in the art market in India today can claim to have a spotless image or the capacity to walk the talk as authenticators. Most have an agenda to earn fame and money even if it entails manipulating the market directly or indirectly.

“As such, tainted members already associated with art cartels are the ones who will most likely find their way on such regulatory bodies. Thus we are not in favour of it unless a broad consensus acceptable to each and every fraternity member is arrived at,” Maher Dadha, founder and CMD of Bid & Hammer told PTI.

Dealers and art gallery owners need to regulate themselves first, he said, adding the people who called for a regulatory body now are the same ones who called for it in 2004 also. “But what progress have they made?”

Asked about plans to make Delhi the main base for Bid & Hammer, Dadha said they would soon have a representative office in Delhi and by the time of their next auction to be held there they will be on course to making the capital the hub of their paintings and decorative art auctions.

Asked about the controversial auction of ‘Significant Indian Art’ by the group in Delhi last year and whether in retrospect was it prudent to have gone ahead with it, despite allegations of counterfeits in the collection, he said, “Not

at all. On the contrary it showed the true mettle and credibility of our team who had the confidence to stand by

our assesment of the authenticity of the artworks.

“Also, the participation of the known and serious art work collectors at the auction reaffirmed our decision was right.”

Dadha said the truth was that the majority of those who claimed the art works were fake were no experts. Those who apparently had made unverified guesses at the behest of some rivals wanted to stop the auction at any cost and tarnish the group’s goodwill.

A case in point is the Delhi Art Gallery posting ‘defamatory material’ on its Facebook page and ‘orchestrating rumours’, he alleged.

“At our last paintings auction in Delhi, their insecurity came through by the following statement to a newspaper ‘Bangalore-based Bid & Hammer’s attempt to grab a bite of the lucrative Delhi market has been viewed with something akin to suspicion,'” he said.

The auction was widely publicised and the catalogue was out months in advance but none of the critics had attended the preview, inspected the documents or clarified their apprehensions with Bid & Hammer experts thus raising questions about the legitimacy of their concerns.

“The fact that most of the allegations were made via the media and on the day of the auction is further evidence of

propaganda. Genuine works cannot and should not be simply brandished as fakes by malafide and untenable allegations,” Dadha said.

When asked about many auction houses’ risk of discovering fake works-whether it is a Bowring’s, a Christies or a Sothebys, he said “Is there any proof that even a single work was a fake?

“All the works were authentic. If there had been compelling evidence we would have had no hesitation in accepting our mistake and removing them from auction instead of going in for a public undressing that too in my family’s 100th year of enterprise.”

To a question on what are the best ways of authenticating an art work, Dadha said, “There are certain principles and basic procedures that need to be followed to determine whether a work is genuine or questionable.

“In the west, authenticating organisations or regulatory bodies or artist foundations have been established and disbanded time and again as they have been found floundering and self-serving more than anything else.”

Even in India, he said talk of regulatory bodies have never taken off because of the vested interest of the people

who espouse it.

Dadha said artist foundations, run primarily by family members of late artists, are also viewed with suspicion because it is common knowledge that just by virtue of being a family member, a person cannot claim art experience.

Referring to the criticism of Susobhan Adhikary, museum curator of Viswa Bharati, questioning a Rabindranath Tagore’s artwork at an auction last year, he said no expert of standing makes an affirmative comment without inspecting a work and accompanying provenance documents.

More so, when another expert of equal, if not greater repute, has vetted the work. That work was authenticated by

Prof Ratan Parimoo, an authority, he said.

Asked about the future plans for Bid & Hammer, Dadha said, “We will continue to offer a wide range of rare, exquisite and quality art, antiques, jewellery and collectibles through our auctions. The auction schedule will be announced shortly.