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Souza's 1.27 Million Pound 'Birth' Breaks Record for Indian Art

June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Francis Newton Souza's painting ``Birth'' sold for 1.27 million pounds ($2.5 million) at a Christie's International sale yesterday in London, an auction record for Indian modern and contemporary art.

The 1955 work beat the auction house's high presale estimate of 800,000 pounds in a sale of South Asian art that tallied 5.4 million pounds, Christie's said in a release. A dozen of the 111 lots offered set artist records, including works by Tyeb Mehta and Subodh Gupta.

``The international appeal of this category continues to grow each season,'' said Hugo Weihe, Christie's International Director of Asian Art, in the release.

The sale indicates demand for modern and contemporary Indian art is holding up better than some other categories as many collectors brace for a slowdown by favoring established names over emerging artists. The South Asian art sale beat the 4.7 million pound high estimate Christie's cited last month.

On the same day, Christie's sale of Russian art and artifacts in London tallied 11.3 million pounds, missing the auction house's low estimate of 13.1 million pounds. A third of the Russian lots offered and 30 percent of those from South Asia were unsold.

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