Auction of heritage furniture fetches Rs 86 lakh in Chicago

Heritage furniture from Chandigarh fetched Rs 86 lakh in an auction organised at the Wright Auction House at Chicago on Thursday. Of the 8 lots of furniture that were to go under the hammer, two found no takers. This is not for the first time that an auction of heritage items from the city took place outside the country.

The furnitures were designed by Pierre Jeanneret, the first Chief Architect of Chandigarh. The furniture was created for use in the city. However, over a period of time the items found their way out of the city and auctions were held in different parts of the country.

In the auction held on Thursday, a pair of committee arm chairs from Assembly whose cost was estimated to be between $25,000 to $30,000 were sold for $40,000. Meanwhile, another pair of chairs fetched $37,500. Among other pieces, an executive desk from the Administrative building estimated to be somewhere between $10,000 to $15,000 fetched $15,000.

A desk that was at one time present at the Chandigarh College of Architecture fetched $7,500. This desk was co-designed by AR Prabhwalker. A folding screen from the Administrative building fetched quite a lot. Estimated to be around $5,000 to $7,000, the screen was auctioned for $22,500.

Two pieces of furniture, however, did not find any takers. These included a desk from the Administrative building estimated to be between $7,000 and $9,000. A set of six chairs from the library at Panjab University was also not auctioned.

An auction was also held in the same house in October this year. That auction had fetched Rs 1 crore. Of the eight lots of furniture that was up for auction then, seven was sold. This included a dining table that was auctioned for $50,000.

Jeanneret had designed several pieces of furniture during his stint in Chandigarh. In fact he had designed the furniture that he used in his house in Sector 5. Over the years, furniture from different buildings was sold off to scrap dealers for a pittance. Those were bought by foreign buyers. It was when these furnitures started fetching high prices at auctions abroad that the Administration woke up to its value. While steps were initiated for preservation of the remaining furniture, no concrete steps have been taken till now.

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