Kolkata: Rabindranath Tagore’s 12 paintings will be auctioned on June 15 in London by Sotheby's as planned. According to reports, the 12 paintings were gifted to the Dartington Hall Trust 71 years ago and are now estimated to be worth £250,000.
According to a representative of Sotheby’s, "The sale of the paintings at public auction will be an unprecedented opportunity for broad competition and the initial response from collectors to the announcement of the sale has been positive. Both Sotheby's and Dartington would be delighted if the works were acquired by an Indian institution - and returned to India - as they are certainly of museum quality."
Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had written a letter to the Prime Minister to bring the paintings back as they may go in wrong hands.
"This news has deeply disturbed us. These Elmhirst collections of Gurudev's paintings are priceless treasures of Indian culture and the government should take steps to bring these paintings back. I shall be grateful if you issue appropriate direction," Bhattacharjee wrote in the letter.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh replied that the government would take action to buy the paintings back. However, there were legal issues involved as under the Antiquities Act only works that are at least 100 years old get the heritage tag facilitating the Government to intervene.
But there is some hope according to Niloy Ghosh, West Bengal's Special Secretary, Department of Information and Cultural Affairs. "There are instances in the past where Government of India has also intervened regarding some portrait of Gandhiji," he said.
First Published: Friday, May 21, 2010, 19:01