Govt yet to take a decision on Tagore paintings

Last Updated: Monday, May 31, 2010 - 20:59

New Delhi: With just 15 days left for the
auction at the Sotheby`s in which 12 of Rabindranath Tagore`s
paintings are slated to go under the hammer, the government is
yet to take a decision on what course to adopt on the issue.

The issue of auction of the Nobel laureate`s paintings in
London was highlighted by art lovers and Tagore`s followers
recently who asked the government to intervene in the matter.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had over 10 days back
assured that the government will look into the issue of
bringing back Gurudev`s paintings.

Singh had spoken on the issue after West Bengal Chief
Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wrote to him requesting him
to take measures to bring the paintings back to India.

"No decision has been taken on this matter as yet," a
Culture Ministry official said when asked if any movement
had been made on the issue.

Twelve paintings of Tagore will go the hammer at
Sotheby`s on June 15.

The paintings belong to the Dartington Hall estate in
London`s South Devon and have a combined pre-sale estimate of
250,000 pounds. Tagore visited Dartington a number of times.

After the news of the auction broke, there was a clamour
from several quarters, particularly from the world of art,
that the paintings should be brought back.

Officials of the Culture Ministry had earlier said that
the issue was under consideration.

Singh, who chaired the first meeting of National
Committee for Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of
Tagore this month, had said the government will surely examine
the issue of bringing back the rare paintings, but had at the
same time added that the government did not have legal rights
over them.

Last year, the government had failed to prevent the
auction of Mahatma Gandhi`s personal belongings, including his
iconic round glasses, at an auction house in New York.

Despite the Delhi High Court ordering a stay on the
auction and a massive diplomatic effort, five of Gandhi`s
personal belongings went under the hammer at Antiquorum
Auctioneers in March, 2009. The articles were then bought by
business tycoon Vijay Mallya.

The auction of Tagore`s paintings comes at a time when
the government is planning to commemorate the 150th birth
anniversary of Tagore in a big way. The Prime Minister has
appointed two committees to consider policies and lay down
guidelines for the celebrations. Singh himself heads one of
the committees.

PTI



First Published: Monday, May 31, 2010 - 20:59

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