Jodhpur may be known for many things – having the title of the Blue City, being studded with heritage structures and home to royals being only some of them. Come March 9, however, it will play host to one of the biggest, swankiest art auctions that
India might have ever seen. The Jodhpur One World Retreat, organised by Bid & Hammer, will see global art connoisseurs, celebrities, royalty and industrialists alike coming together to catch a piece of the action. All, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Umaid Bhawan Palace, atop a hill. “This is an auction for a great cause. It’s essentially to raise awareness, and funds, for the Indian Head Injury Foundation. There are going to be prominent personalities from all over the world, celebrities who believe in the cause. I think, also, for the first time ever, these celebrities are going to be participating in the auction. It’s going to be fantastic to see them all come together under one roof,” says Ankush Dadha, director, Bid & Hammer, who reveals that they are planning to hold a similar event once every two years.
On the block
Expect only the most exclusive pieces to be part of this auction’s catalogue. “We’ve not made any compromises on the price points. We’re not telling the participants that there are going to be reasonable price points. It’s the best in art and we’ve priced it very competitively. We’ve left no stone unturned in sourcing and authenticating these pieces,” he adds. So why Jodhpur? “It’s a place where royals converge, it’s a networking point – and also because of Jodhpur’s Yuvaraj Shivraj Singh’s tragic head injury after a polo accident a few years ago, which highlights the problem more vividly. It’s a heritage city, a place where east meets west. This is a retreat for you to relax as well as network. There will be conferences, discussions, spa sessions and more. Essentially, it combines luxury with lifestyle,” elaborates Dadha.
Since the auction is set to be both glamorous and fascinating, you can rest assured that there will be plenty of exquisite and elaborate pieces in the collection going under the hammer. Intricate paintings from Rajasthan, daggers and sheaths from the Mughal dynasty, dazzling jewellery, priceless heirlooms and unique heritage pieces will also be on offer.
According to Dadha, “The lots are from known collections and royal collections and include an eight-panel Verre Eglomise Mirrored and Painted Metal Screen, by Etian Drian – a really sophisticated work of art.” The Drian painting dates back to the 1920s and was created to celebrate the arrival of the first black jazz band to perform in Paris.
A series of paintings by JMW Turner, one of England’s most iconic artists will also be on auction. The works depict views of Seringapatnam (now Srirangapatna) during the times of Tipu Sultan. What makes them special is the rumour that Turner never actually visited India to see these places first-hand. Another piece of art that will wow connoisseurs comes from a royal family of Gujarat in Lot 36. It is a classic modh and thurra set, with fine gold thread work and a coat on arms, used at weddings. If you’re into rare figurines, then the gilt bronze figure of spiritual Amitabha flanked by two Taras under an exquisite pagoda is also going under the hammer. Made by artists in the 16th century, this piece comes from the collection of Sumitra Devi Birla.
Art lovers can also look forward to the Bahsohli style of paintings that began under the patronage of Raja Kirpal Pal from Jammu. The Pahari technique dates back to about 1685 AD and fuses the existing kaarkhana style of India with Mughal forms. And that isn’t all; diamond and ruby necklaces, swords, miniature paintings and even gold and ruby regal canopies will be up for grabs. Perhaps, for the more modern collector, the art deco pieces and the works of MF Husain and Ram Kumar will lure you to what is being called one of the rarest of auctions in the country, based on the catalogue.
The star-attraction, however, we suspect will be British musician, Sting. The legendary rocker, who has pledged support to the cause which is the driving force for this entire auction, will perform in a private, one night only concert. The singer is known for songs like Fields of Gold, Brand New Day and Desert Rose. Set against the fabulous backdrop of the beautiful Umaid Bhavan, this performance is set to be, possibly, the highlight of the Jodhpur One World Retreat 2013.
While Jodhpur itself and the auction, where you can only “expect the finest” as Dadha puts it, do steal the limelight, the guest list is no small feat either. While you’re busy trying to win bids you will also be rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of the world - not least of all super star Amitabh Bachchan. Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and Filmfare award winner Shah Rukh Khan are also expected at the event while businessmen Mukesh Ambani and Cyrus Mistry are on the list too. Representing Indian royalty will be Prince Richard Shivaji Rao Holkar of Indore and he’ll be joined by British royal, the Duke of York, Prince Andrew. Popular political activist Bob Geldof and writer campaigner Jemima Khan will also probably be present at Umaid Bhavan for the gala.
By invite only. Registration for the auction is Rs 5 lakh. On March 9. At Jodhpur. 6.30 pm. Details: bidandhammer.com