That Jamini Roy oil piece hanging on your living room wall is about a lot more than aesthetics but have you tracked the change in its price since you bought it? How has it fared compared to pieces by other, even newer Indian artists, whose works have been making them household names among art connoisseurs? You can now find out by accessing the Indian Art Index – the brainchild of Mumbai-based art gallery Aura Art and IIM-Ahmedabad.
This first-of-its-kind index tracks the movement in the prices of pieces by 25 prominent Indian artists – from MF Husain to SH Raza, to Tyeb Mehta – based on prices that they fetch at 11 global art auctions. Data is updated quarterly and the index is published twice a year. The aim, its creators say, is to not just offer real-time price information, but promote Indian art and artists globally.
“The index starts in the first quarter of 2001. So far, we have analysed artworks auctioned across different auction houses worldwide but largely in India, of the top 25 artists. It amounts to nearly 10,000 artworks,” said Prashant Das, creator of Indian Art Index, IIM Ahmedabad.
Last year, in India alone, pieces by Indian artists which were collectively worth $100 million went under the hammer. Now, this is a small number, working out to less than one percent of the global art market, which is dominated by the USA and China. While the United States accounts for 43 percent share in the global art market, China follows at 27 percent whereas India is far behind at 0.5 percent.
However, the domestic market is on track to mushroom as India adds to its billionaire count, many of whom increasingly see art as an investment.
“You have 1,100 industrialists & wealth creators in India with over Rs 1,000 crore wealth in 122 cities. My guess is that only 25-50 of them have been allocating any meaningful amount to art. Even if the rest put 1 percent of their wealth in the next 10 years towards art, which is Rs 10 crore, per person, & growing, you have Rs 10,000 crore coming into art from this one small pool of high net individuals,” explained Rishiraj Sethi, creator, Indian Art Index, Aura Art.
The index also aims to bring greater transparency in the art investment world. This is crucial since much of the Indian art world has not yet forgotten the Osian Art Fund, which failed to meet its investor obligations in 2009. “Some of those fiascos were not necessarily about the asset class by itself but more about lack of regulation and about the fund management style as well as some of the decisions that some fund managers took,” said Das.
The Indian Art Index will join the likes of Sotheby’s Mein Moses and Artnet, which provide several art indices. Hopefully, it will also play a significant role in adding Indian art to the global art investor’s palette.