Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Artist Foundations Sued for Fake Claims

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In response to an article published in the India Legal issue of April 30, 2016, Bid & Hammer, a prominent auction house, has the following to say about counterfeits in Indian art and the recourse it has taken to curb the menace

If the world of Indian art is booming, so is the infiltration of unscrupulous dealers and gallery owners who are passing off fakes as originals and originals as fakes in an attempt to rake in millions. In such a scenario, it is indeed very difficult to ascertain which artworks are actually genuine or which source is to be trusted especially when it comes to works by senior artists like MF Husain, SH Raza, Manjit Bawa, KH Ara, FN Souza and Ravi Varma.

However, it wouldn’t be all gloomy if the concerned individuals and experts walk the talk and establish the authenticity or otherwise of their claims and this is precisely what we at Bid & Hammer, as a responsible auction house, have been espousing and standing by our expertise on artworks to the extent that we successfully took legal action against a known collector to prove the validity of our authentication process.

A victim of media concocted speculation a couple of years ago, we unflinchingly stood our ground amidst all the noise by our competitors who avariciously called for a “Regulatory Body to curb Fakes”. Under-standably, it was in an attempt to deflect their own shortcomings that Bid & Hammer was targeted in spite of our catalogue having works with impeccable provenance from the descendants of the Maharaja of Burdwan, freedom fighter Radha Devi Goenka, actress Namrata Shirodkar and other notable artist estates. Expectedly, the campaign was full of rhetoric and eventually withered away. Subsequently, to expose the real cartels that manipulated the market in collusion with sections of the mainstream media, we have coherently taken legal recourse against those individuals, galleries and artist foundations who orchestrated the smear campaign.

Bid & Hammer’s counter campaign is backed not only by Prof Ratan Parimoo but also KS Radhakrishnan (an authority on Ramkinkar Baij) and Prof Rajeev Lochan who have denied making observations as was published in the media. Even artist KK Hebbar’s daughters, Rekha Rao and Rajani Prasanna, are wholeheartedly supporting the crusade of the auction house against fakes. The onus has now been passed on to those who make such allegations to substantiate them with concrete evidence. If not, they should refrain from airing such ill-informed views in the greater interest of Indian art.

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