Now that I'm back in Bombay, I can answer Elizabeth Flock, one of the writers of the Forbes article on Neville Tuli, which I blogged about last week. I stated in my blog that Forbes underestimated the size of the art market in 2004, to which Elizabeth replied, "There are several Indian art experts who have estimated the value of the art market at only Rs 50 crore in 2004."
I have before me a chart displaying the total revenues and break up of auctions of Indian art in 2004. Sales were $13 million, which, at the 2004 average of 45 rupees to a dollar, works out to 58.5 crore rupees. Saffronart was the biggest revenue earner, accounting for 35% of total sales. Christie's had a 32% share, Osian's 17%, Sotheby's 15% and small players the rest.
At that time auctions did not constitute a substantial portion of total sales of Indian art, and it is reasonable to believe the market was four or five times that 58.5 crore figure, which tallies with my guesstimate of a total market size of 200 to 300 crores in 2004. The very next year, auction house sales jumped to $51 million, definitely a higher growth rate than that of the market as a whole.
Forbes won't reveal the names of the experts they consulted, but it's clear those people either didn't know what they were talking about, or chose for some reason to hide the truth.