Merchant collection nets £653,000, necklace at £55,200

Oct. 8: Indian-born producer-director Ismail Merchant’s personal art collection sold for £653,000 at an auction by Christie’s in London.

The highest price was paid for the painting by Hungarian artist August Theodor Schoefft, entitled The Thugs of India halt at the shrine of Ganesh, which was sold for £91,250 to a private British collector. The unusually large painting was estimated to sell for £70,000-100,000.

“The fact that the sale did so well, nearly reaching its top estimate, is a tribute to Ismail Merchant’s taste as a collector, and the variety of all the objects he assembled. There was something for everyone. What a pity he wasn’t at Christie’s this morning — how he would have loved it!” said James Ivory, film director and partner of Ismail Merchant, after the sale on Wednesday.

Works of art from Merchant’s residences in London, Paris and upstate New York and his New York apartment were sold at the auction. These included Indian and European paintings, furniture, film memorabilia and props, works of art and a collection of textiles and Indian shawls.

One of the film props, the bookcase which fell on and killed a character in Howards End, sold for £1,188, considerably more than the pre-sale estimate of £300 to £500.

In an auction on Thursday, Bonhams sold an important 19th century emerald and seed-pearl necklace from the Lahore Treasury, reputedly worn by Maharani Jindan Kaur, wife of Ranjit Singh, for almost double its estimated price at £55,200.

The necklace, comprising of six polished emerald beads of which one was converted to a pendant, had been estimated to sell for £25,000-35,000.

The cloth covered case of the necklace, has an inscription inside, saying: “From the Collection of the Court of Lahore formed by HH The Maharajah Runjeet Singh & lastly worn by Her Highness The Late Maharanee Jeddan Kower.”

Another necklace from the Lahore Court in a similar fitted case with identical inscription appeared at Christie’s auction in 1999 and is now in the collection of Satinder and Narinder Kapany.

Between 1849 and 1850, when the British took control of the court in Lahore, they sold the jewellery in the Lahore Fort.

The items were listed in seven printed catalogues and the sales took place over five successive days, the last one starting on December 2, 1850.

A suite of diamond-set gold jewels from 19th century India, comprising eight elements belonging to a bracelet and one floral openwork rosette belonging to a bazuband, was sold for £18,000 inclusive of buyer’s premium.£653,000,-necklace-at-£55,200.aspx

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