NEW DELHI: Subodh Gupta is no stranger to shaking up the art world with his work exalting plebeian materials such as utensils, tiffin boxes and even cow dung into pricey installations. The Delhi-based artist may shake things up again-this time, the capital’s real estate market.
Gupta, whose rags-to-riches journey from a little-known Bihar village to the high table of contemporary Indian art in two decades has acquired folklore status, and his artist wife Bharti Kher have quietly bought a bungalow on a 865 sq yard plot in Sunder Nagar in Lutyens Delhi, an area where three-figure crore deals are the norm.
Both Gupta and seller of the property, who requested not to be named, declined to confirm the deal or its terms. Gupta did not respond to an email and several reminders sent by ET seeking confirmation. But papers filed by him at the property office and seen by ET reveal the house-115, Sunder Nagar-has been registered in the name of Gupta and Kher.
While the exact transaction value is not known, dealers of high-end properties say similar-sized houses in Sunder Nagar have recently changed hands for Rs 100 crore or more.
If true, this would make it the first reported instance of an artist acquiring a house with a three-digit crore price tag and create a new marker of sorts in the world of Indian art, whose size and international profile has grown exponentially in the past decade.
According to industry estimates, annual turnover of the art business in India grew to an estimated $350-400 million (Rs 1,900-2,200 crore) in 2011 compared with just $5 million in 2003. The industry has been growing at 30-35% a year, enriching Gupta and a breed of young artists like him.
Brokers with knowledge of the transaction said Gupta and Kher are yet to move in to their new home and plan to pull down the old structure.
The new structure is expected to embody their artistic styles and vision, although they will be barred from constructing anything more than 10,000 square feet on the plot (the size of the present building), in keeping with building bylaws in Delhi’s Lutyens Bungalow Zone that require new constructions to not exceed the area or the height of the old structure.
Many of the houses in Sunder Nagar, a tony residential locality favoured by expatriates and whose famous residents include cricketer Kapil Dev, industrialist Dhruv Sawhney and the mother-son art collector duo of Lekha and Anupam Poddar, were built in the years soon after Independence.