Six heritage items go for Rs 1.75 cr at Paris auction

CHANDIGARH: In yet another jolt to the UT Administration, heritage furniture of the city has been auctioned abroad.

Six heritage items go for Rs 1.75 cr at Paris auction

An illuminated reading table of the PU library fetched a whopping Rs 89 lakh at the auction held on November 27.

Ramkrishan Upadhyay

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30

In yet another jolt to the UT Administration, heritage furniture of the city has been auctioned abroad. This time, six heritage items were sold for a record Rs 1.75 crore during an auction conducted by Sotheby’s, an auction house, at Paris on November 27.

Among the six items auctioned was an illuminated reading table from the Panjab University Library, which fetched Rs 89 lakh. This is the third biggest auction in over a month in which the heritage items were sold for crores.

The last two auctions were held in the USA and London in the last week of October. Fourteen furniture items designed by Pierre Jeanneret, a close associate of Swiss architect Le Corbusier, were sold for around Rs 1,44,05,119 by an auction house, Wright, based in Chicago, USA, on October 27. Earlier, three items were sold for around Rs 1. 50 crore during an auction conducted by Phillips, an auction house, in London on October 24.

The items which were auctioned at Paris include a pair of arm chairs (32,000 euros), illuminated reading table (1,12,500 euros), kangaroo chair (37,500 euros), desk (7,500 euros), a sofa (18,000 euros) and pair of two chairs (14,000 euros).

In a letter to the UT Adviser, Ajaj Jagga, a member of the Heritage Items Protection Cell, has demanded that the Administration should take up the matter with the country concerned. He said despite a clear ban by the Ministry of Home Affairs, six heritage items of the city had been auctioned abroad again. “Auction of Indian heritage is going on and on, causing a huge loss to the nation’s prestige apart from violating the ban. All Indian embassies abroad, especially in the USA, France, Germany, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Israel, may be alerted, Jagga said.

The heritage panel member said the United Nations may also be approached reminding its international commitment to UNESCO to combat trafficking of cultural objects while referring to the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.The items which were sold in earlier auctions included a public bench from the High Court, folding screen from the Administrative Building, committee armchair from the High Court, a rare cross-arm office chair from the Administrative Building. 

Jeanneret was responsible for much of the Chandigarh’s large civic architecture project. His famous buildings in Chandigarh are the Le Corbusier Centre, primary schools and colleges, the Chief Minister’s house, the MLA Hostel etc. At Panjab University, he had designed Gandhi Bhawan, library and administrative building, hostels for boys and girls etc. His designed furniture is in great demand world over. 

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