Tuesday, March 10, 2020

the beautiful paintings that command high price ~ Yes Bank ..


One would exclaim instantly  ~ what a beautiful painting !  On the streets of Thiruvallikkeni in  my younger days, a person would draw paintings of God & Goddesses with chalkpieces  on the streets (I would feel sorry for him, if it rains !)

This beautiful  painting is  by a French artist - Olaf Van Cleef.  He was a jewelery salesman at Cartier for 33 years.  He lived for a long time in Paris then in Pondicherry too. He started painting at a young age, his subjects are often Indian - portraits of  Hindu Gods and Goddesses  as well as scenes from Hindu mythology.  At the request of the Rajah Ravi Varma Foundation Heritage (Bangalore, India) he embellished and enriched with Swarovski elements four reeditions of engravings by the painter Ravi Varma in order to "crystallize for eternity" four masterpieces of the deceased artist in 1906.

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 – 1890) was a Post-Impressionist painter of Dutch origin whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold colour. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, the much acclaimed painter of now, died aged 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted.  In 1885, he painted his first major work, entitled The Potato Eaters. The self-portrait [a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist] shows the artist in three-quarter profile standing in a room in the Yellow House wearing a closed coat and a fur cap. His right ear is bandaged. It was in fact his left ear that was bandaged, the painting being a mirror image. Van Gogh shows the bandage on his mutilated ear like a saint displaying the stigmata; the act of self-mutilation changed Van Gogh.

The crisis in Yes Bank and its impact on customers nationwide has yet again raised the issue of business accountability. Last year, the Mumbai based Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank was placed under an RBI administrator for six months due to massive under-reporting of unrecoverable loans. 73% of its advances are believed to have been given to one realty company DHFL, now bankrupt, with thousands of customers facing difficulty in withdrawing their money due to restrictions imposed by RBI.  Banks are not the only businesses that have put consumers in a spot. The collapse of Jet Airways and Cox & Kings left many travellers stranded and left their plans in disarray. Even outside direct impact, investors in firms like IL&FS and DHFL saw their investments evaporate overnight due to mismanagement, fraud and rampant corruption. Many Indians still bear the scars from corporate scams and failures ranging from the Harshad Mehta scam in the 90s, to the Satyam Computer collapse in 2009. All this has resulted in widening the already existing trust deficit with businesses.

Paintings are costly – in 2015,  a  painting by Pablo Picasso set a new world record for the most expensive artwork to be sold at auction after reaching $179m (Rs.1149 crores approx) in New York. The painting had been on a pre-sale world tour in Hong Kong, London and New York.  Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France.  ‘Women of Algiers in their Apartment’ is an 1834 oil on canvas painting by Eugène Delacroix.  King Louis Philippe bought it and presented it to the Musée du Luxembourg, which at that time was a museum for contemporary art.  It depicts Algerian concubines of a harem with a hookah,  that  served as a source of inspiration to the later impressionists,  and a series of 15 paintings and numerous drawings by Pablo Picasso in 1954.   Picasso's Women of Algiers became  the most expensive painting to sell at auction.

This painting now in news is nothing comparable buut yet was sold at 2cr – because it was a deal between big people !!   Based on statements recorded by Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor with investigating officers that he was coerced into buying a painting from Priyanka Gandhi for 2 crore, the Enforcement Directorate will soon summon the Congress general secretary for questioning and is likely to attach her cottage near Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.  In his statement recorded at the ED office in Mumbai on Sunday, Kapoor claimed that Congress’s former South Mumbai MP Milind Deora pressured him to buy a portrait of ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi from Priyanka for 2 crore. Under the anti-money laundering law, the money taken from Kapoor, an accused, which Priyanka spent on her cottage near Shimla, qualifies to be treated as proceeds of crime and this renders the property vulnerable to the prospect of being attached by the ED.

** Sources said Deora was also likely to be questioned in connection with the transaction which agency officials believe was inspired by more than Kapoor’s interest in the painting. Congress has denied there was anything wrong in Priyanka selling off M F Hussain’s portrait of Rajiv Gandhi to Kapoor. The party had on Sunday said it was a legitimate transaction which Priyanka had disclosed in her income tax returns, adding that it was being highlighted by the government as a “diversionary ploy”. Deora did not comment.

Sources in the ED, however, cited text messages recovered from Kapoor’s smartphone as well as his statement to say that the controversial banker, accused of siphoning off more than 4,000 crore from Yes Bank, may not have bought Rajiv Gandhis portrait of his own volition. Citing email and text messages that Deora sent from his BlackBerry and which, interestingly, Kapoor had preserved for a decade, sources said the transaction was initiated by the former South Mumbai MP. Deora first wrote to Kapoor on May 1, 2010, asking him to write to “Mrs Gandhi” showing his willingness to buy the Rajiv Gandhi portrait.

He pursued the matter vigorously by sending text messages and again wrote to Kapoor when the latter delayed making the payment because he wanted to meet the Gandhis before closing the deal. An exasperated Deora wrote on May 29, 2010, “Rana uncle, I received your letter dated May 28th and have sent the same to PG. A meeting with her or her family won’t be possible now but I’ll try and arrange it sometime later. Her mother and she want the cheque by early next week itself. Even my father has been informed by them and he’s also been trying to reach you unsuccessfully. Unfortunately, this has taken really long. Can you pls reply to this SMS and tell me the exact date by when the cheque can be given to her as I MUST communicate the same to my father and her ASAP! I know you are receiving SMSes so I’d really appreciate your reply.” (sic) Deora’s keenness for early payment to Priyanka comes across in the message he sent to Kapoor on June 2, 2010, at 4:17 pm in which he said, “Rana uncle, pls let me know when I can collect the cheque. I have been assuring them week after week that it’s happening and they have lost patience at this stage. Pls trust me and don’t delay any further. Tks. Milind.”

The following day, Kapoor issued a cheque for 2 crore to Priyanka from his personal account in HSBC Bank. Investigations showed that he got Yes Bank to reimburse himself entirely: something which, according to agency officials, meets the threshold of “proceeds of crime” under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Priyanka acknowledged the payment of 2 crore as the full and final payment towards subject painting” in a letter to Kapoor the next day. She emphasised that the painting was “presently in her ownership and possession”, adding, “I trust you are aware of the historical value of this work, and will ensure its placement in an environment that befits its stature.”

ED sources said the agency would also look into Priyanka’s claim of ownership of the painting which Hussain had presented to Rajiv Gandhi at Congress’s centenary celebrations in 1985. “We have to see whether it was the property of Congress party,” a source said.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
** news source TOI Chennai edition of date
10.03.2020.


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