A day after the US returned 200 Indian artefacts valued at $100 million, news is that a precious cache of Le Corbusier and his associate Pierre Jeanneret’s design heritage will go up for sale in New York tomorrow.
The live auction by US-based house Phillips involves the sale of heritage furniture Corbusier and Jeanneret designed for Chandigarh, the city former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru assigned them to build as a symbol of modern India.
As for the pieces on sale, these include Le Corbusier’s and Jeanneret’s sofa model designed for the High Court and Assembly buildings and valued at $70,000 to one lakh; a set of four armchairs designed by Jeanneret for the Chandigarh College of Architecture priced at $40,000 to 60,000 and a pair of console tables Jeanneret designed for Chandigarh’s administrative buildings valued between $35,000 and 55,000.
Ahead of tomorrow’s auction, Chandigarh resident Ajay Jagga, who has been crusading since 2010 to preserve city’s heritage, has written to the Department of Homeland Security, US, to stop the auction and check if the sellers entered India on business or tourist visas and if they paid Indian customs for the items before taking these abroad.
Jagga, whose campaign, recently resulted in the establishment of the Heritage Protection Cell under the Chandigarh Administration, said he had written a complaint to CBI’s Interpol branch in New Delhi to enable inter-country cooperation for protecting Indian artefacts from being illegally taken out. CBI Interpol has now asked the Bureau’s Chandigarh branch director to investigate the matter and inform if any cooperation is needed in the case from the crime departments of the US and France. The Tribune is in possession of the CBI’s letter.
Jagga, a member of the Chandigarh’s Administration’s Heritage Cell, has shared with the CBI details of five previous auctions of Chandigarh’s iconic furniture and fixtures, including manholes, in the US and France.