However much a cliché the tale of a garreted artist, his penurious lifestyle and posthumous success may appear, people lap it up when it comes with caveats such as record-breaking prices. Validation for Vasudeo S Gaitonde, whose work has constantly bettered its own benchmarks at auctions two decades after he died of ill-health and poverty in New Delhi, has put his practice in the spotlight. Just two weeks after he fetched Rs 32 crore (hammer price) at Pundole’s, his Untitled painting drew Rs 35.5 crore (inclusive of buyer’s premium) at the Saffronart auction on September 17 — setting two records, back to back, for Indian art.
Despite being coveted and vied for by the most discerning collectors of Indian modern art, his name does not evoke instant recognition among the lay public. He may command higher values than his peers, F N Souza, S H Raza or M F Husain, yet he remains unknown beyond a small coterie of art lovers. That is s
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