More Chandigarh Heritage artifacts auctioned in Oak Park, IL, USA

Activist Ajay Jagga writes to the Culture Minister on theft and auction of Chandigarh artifacts

Activist Ajay Jagga writes to the Culture Minister on theft and auction of Chandigarh artifacts
Activist Ajay Jagga writes to the Culture Minister on theft and auction of Chandigarh artifacts

Public activist Ajay Jagga of Chandigarh has written to the Minister of Culture, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, highlighting the auctioning of more artifacts from Chandigarh in the United States (US). PGurus had highlighted this impending auction via our post on September 5, 2016. In the past, the US has been responsive in helping India recover over 200 idols stolen from various temples. Will the Minister of Culture act swiftly to retrieve these artifacts? Only time will tell. Below is the complete letter, formatted for reading:

Dr. Mahesh Sharma
Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge)
Ministry of Culture, Govt of India
 
 
Shri Narendra Kumar Sinha
Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India 
Subject:           Economic Crime : Trafficking in Cultural Property
                         Nation’s heritage being auctioned in foreign Countries. without any concerns from India

Ref                 More Chandigarh Heritage auctioned in Oak Park, IL, USA, 
on 10th September, 2016 causing huge financial loss to the exchequer of Union Territory of Chandigarh apart from damaging the prestige/heritage of nation;
 
Hon’ble Sh. Mahesh Sharma ji,
 
Namaskar
 
After a series of communications to Chandigarh office of CBI, about auction of Indian heritage items in USA, France, Germany, I approached the Interpol wing of CBI and then on April 25, 2016 they issued a letter to your office i.e. Chandigarh office of CBI vide letter no. AMERICAS//1/125/2016/7160 dated 25/4/2016 for taking further action on information regarding auction of heritage of Chandigarh items. The action taken by your office is not known.
 
However I further informed the CBI that more heritage is being auctioned on 10th September, 2016 in USA
 
The thing is that the property of India (heritage of Chandigarh) is being auctioned abroad without any fear of law enforcing agencies.
 
The property smuggled or not is a matter of investigation but the property of Chandigarh Administration ie. Various furniture & fixture items (created by world renowned Architect Mon Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret) are being auctioned in USA. This is continuing for last more than a decade.
 
The issue involved in this is that whether the foreign auction houses came to India on a business VISA and bought cultural items and then send it abroad or came here on a tourist VISA and took the goods in violation of the commercial/import/export laws. The thing is that items which were sold for few hundreds of Indian Rupees was being auctioned in millions abroad and this is happening for last more than 10 years.
Now, despite giving the advance intimation of an auction to held in U S A on 10th September, 2016, the auction went ahead as per its announced schedule and all the eight lots of Chandigarh items were auctions for 36900 USD, without any concerns from India.
 
The complete detail of 8 items which were auctioned on 10th September, 2016 and prices thereof, are given below for ready reference.
 
Apart from the visas of foreign buyers, it has to be found as to why the heritage items were/are sold as junk or scrap, causing huge loss to the Government. Surely it looks like 2G Scam as Government property is auctioned for few hundreds and then further auctioned by the buyer in foreign country for more than 24 lacs Indian Rupees.
 
So now, again I am sending this intimation/complaint to you/your office with a request that an appropriate urgent action be taken to save the National Property ie. Cultural Property from being auctioned abroad, and then inquiry be initiated to find out the truth and to save the nation’s cultural property apart from ensuring that the financial losses must stop. The protection of heritage is also a statutory duty of the Government of India and its states.  (article 49)
 
On 3 February, 2015, a bench of the Supreme Court of India comprising Justice T.S.Thakur (current CJI) and Justice Ashok Kumar Goel has held that preservation of rich heritage and culture of the country is a constitutional mandate.
 
Thanking you.
Yours truly
 
AJAY JAGGA,
Advocate
231, Sector 21-A
Chandigarh
Details of Auction attached.
Results of auction held at Oak Park, IL, USA on 10th September, 2016 by Treadway Toomey Auctions
 
Particulars of item auctioned
Sourced from
Sold ($)
Lot 497: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Architect’s stools, pair, variant of model PJ-SI-58-A 15″dia. x 19″h
College of Architecture, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India 
3750
Lot 498: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Library chair, model PJ-SI-51-A, set of six 19″w x 18″d x 30″h
Central University Library as well as other libraries of the city, and the Yacht Club, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India 
4000
Lot 499: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Round Stool, model PJ-SI-22-A, set of three 15”dia x 24.5”h
Scientific Block, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India
Est price : 4000-6000
 
4000
Lot 500: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Office Table Desk-Bookcase, Item PJ-BU-02-A, with a Library chair, model PJ-SI-51-A 48″w x 32″d x 28″h
Secretariat and various Administrative Buildings, Chandigarh India 
4250
Lot 501: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Architect’s stools, pair, variant of model PJ-SI-58-A 15″dia. x 19″h
College of Architecture, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India 
2400
Lot 502: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Armchairs, six, model PJ-SI-28-A 19.5″w x 22″d x 31″h; slight variations
Punjab University and various Chandigarh Administrative Buildings, India 
9000
Lot 503: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Office Armchair, pair, model PJ-SI-28-B 20″w x 21″d x 31.5″h, slight variations
Architects’ Office and various administrative buildings, Chandigarh, India 
4750
Lot 504: Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) Student desk, model PJ-BU-08-A, and Office Armchair, model PJ-SI-28-A desk: 48”w x 25”d x 28.5”h,
College of Architecture, Punjab University, and various Chandigarh Administrative Buildings, Chandigarh, India 
4750
 
Total realized
36900
 
 
 

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