10 Chandigarh heritage items sold for Rs 88 lakh in US auction : The Tribune India

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10 Chandigarh heritage items sold for Rs 88 lakh in US auction

10 Chandigarh heritage items sold for Rs 88 lakh in US auction

A desk-chair set auctioned in the US.



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17

In yet another auction of UT’s heritage items, 10 artefacts were sold for Rs 88.03 lakh in the US on June 6.

Ajay Jagga, a member of the Heritage Items Protection Cell, Chandigarh Administration, said the artefacts designed by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret — cousin of Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, who planned Chandigarh, included a pair each of advocate chairs and easy armchairs, a set of a desk and chair, a pair of committee armchairs, a public bench, a set of three high stools, a pair of senate armchairs, a rare lounge armchair, a desk and office armchair, and a linen chest. He said the pair of advocate chairs, designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, fetched the highest amount of Rs 15.79 lakh during the auction held by Wright on June 6.

Previous biddings

  • April 30: Six artefacts went under the hammer in the US fetching a total of Rs 50.92 lakh
  • April 11: Seven articles were sold in the US for Rs 69.18 lakh
  • March 24: Four pieces of heritage furniture were auctioned in Luxembourg, Europe, for a total of Rs 23.46 lakh

Seeking protection of heritage items from Chandigarh which continued to be auctioned all over the world, Jagga, in a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of Culture and Tourism Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, has stated that in response to his last representation on this topic, the Ministry of Culture took action and asked the agencies such as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to look into the matter.

“However, the MEA is yet to take cognisance of this matter,” he said. In fact, the heritage articles are being auctioned regularly in foreign countries without any resistance from the Government of India, he adds.

The ongoing auctions can be stopped only through diplomatic channels and brought back, as these were taken out of the country in an illegal manner. As such, it is requested that the all Indian Embassies in foreign countries should be made aware of these matters and necessary guidelines issued to them, he said, adding that the Ministry of Home Affairs had banned the export of such items in 2011.

Despite consistent efforts being made by the UT Heritage Items Protection Cell, the smuggling of the city’s prized possession continued.

In April last year, an unidentified person stole a piece of heritage furniture from a laboratory of Panjab University. The suspect casually walked into the laboratory and asked a student for a heritage stool.

He picked one up and escaped on a motorcycle parked outside the department. In November 2020, the police arrested a carpenter in Baltana, Zirakpur, for his alleged involvement in the theft of 48 heritage chairs from Sociology Department of Panjab University. In 2019, a PU employee was found guilty of smuggling out a heritage table designed by Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier. He was demoted and slapped a penalty. Jagga said a consignment of heritage items from the city was seized by the Customs Department at Inland Container Depot, Tughlakabad, Delhi, in 2018 and an FIR was filed in this regard in Chandigarh. Similarly, officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence DRI seized UT’s heritage items being smuggled out in 2020. He said the heritage items had been auctioned in foreign shores since 2010. Most of the items designed by Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier were housed in Panjab University, PEC and PGI, which are under Punjab, Haryana and UT Administration. To check the smuggling of such items, an inventory of all such items was being prepared, he added.

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