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The firm of Nirav Modi on Tuesday has moved the Bombay High Court against a special court order which permitted the Income Tax Department to auction 68 paintings seized as part of its probe against the diamantaire, According to authorities, the 68 paintings are valued at more than Rs 50 crore.
In a petition filed before the high court, the firm, Camelot Enterprises, has said such action is unlawful. According to the court website, the hearing of the petition is scheduled for April 1.
However, the petitioner is likely to seek an urgent hearing in the case, at an earlier date, since the auction is scheduled to begin on March 27. Last week, a special court here permitted the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to auction 11 luxury vehicles belonging to Modi.
The special court also allowed the Income Tax Department to auction the high-value art collection of the diamantaire who is wanted by agencies on charges of tax evasion and money laundering.
According to authorities, the 68 paintings are valued at more than Rs 50 crore.
As many as 68 artworks are expected to fetch anywhere between Rupees 30 crores and Rupees 50 Crores ($4.4 million-$7.3 million) in the auction to be held in Mumbai.
Auctioneers say the sale is the first of its kind in a country where tax authorities have usually auctioned property, gold and luxury items, but not art.
After a court order allowing the auction to take place, tax authorities appointed professional auction house Saffronart.
"Until a few years ago, the tax authorities really didn't know the value of art," said Farah Siddiqui, an art adviser who is advising clients eyeing Modi's collection.
The auction includes works by Raja Ravi Varma, a 19th-century painter and VS Gaitonde, a modern artist known for his abstract and often monochromatic paintings.
"We believe that the collection's intrinsic value will garner a positive response from collectors," said Saffronart Chief Executive Dinesh Vazirani.