Srivastava’s Hussains

wealthymattersGuru Swarup Srivastava, who created a stir in 2004 by signing up maverick artist late M F Husain to create 100 paintings worth Rs 100 crore is putting up for sale 25 pieces the master had managed to complete before the deal went awry.

Just two years after hitting the headlines with the deal, Srivastava plunged into infamy when the Central Bureau of Investigations launched a probe into a Rs 235-crore loan NAFED had extended to him to import iron ore, but a part of which he diverted to make real estate investments. Months later, Delhi police’s Economic Offences Wing booked him for defrauding two chartered accountants and the Enforcement Directorate booked him for money laundering.

Ringed by financial troubles, Srivastava was unable to fund his Rs 100-crore project with Husain. But the artist kept his side of the pact by delivering 25 paintings for the Rs 25 crore advance he had received. Srivastava now hopes to use these paintings to pay off his dues and start life afresh.

Incidentally, in 2006, due to some controversial paintings Husain had done, he was charged with hurting the sentiments of people and faced several lawsuits. Husain then left the country, living in self-imposed exile in Doha and London, where he died in June 2011, aged 95.

The 25 paintings Husain did for Srivastava, built around the theme Our Planet Called Earth, were seized by NAFED after Srivastava defaulted on repayment of the loan and currently lie in a safety vault of IndusInd Bank’s Lokhandwala branch in Mumbai. Srivastava believes the art works are now worth Rs 100 crore.

Srivastava lives in a 5000 sq ft Lokhandwala duplex,which also has been attached by another bank. Srivastava claims his financial woes are nearly over as he has already paid NAFED Rs 110 crore and now owes them only Rs 9 crore which he proposes to settle against a property he owns in Mega Mall. NAFED vice-president Changdeorao Holkar confirms that Srivastava has paid a large part of his dues.And that the suggestion to dispose off the Mega Mall property had originated from NAFED on 2007.

Srivastava, who made his millions by importing manganese and iron ore, is self admittedly talking to some people in Zurich to sell the paintings.But before the sale, he speaks of exhibiting the paintings in London as per MF Husain’s wish.According to Srivastava, Hussain had also wanted to donate his portrayal of Gandhi to the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi. Srivastava is not willing to commit to a donation but expresses a willingness to put up the painting for a limited period at the gallery. He also speaks of another painting of Husain which depicts Shiva which he suggests will be displayed in the Mukameshwar temple in Agra.

So, some of Hussain’s later works might become encumbrance free and move out of  vaults.The search is on to find buyers willing to pay greater prices,hence the talk of Zurich and London.In the meanwhile they are to be exhibited to increase their asking price.Here’s a chance for Hussain lovers to negotiate in a down-market to acquire something they might like for their collection.The purchase price of a few crores can be easily reached,especially if resources are pooled.And the acquisitions are likely to be good investments in the works of a seminal artist.

About Keerthika Singaravel

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