Research and Passion for Collecting - are the two words I will use to summarise the reasons behind Prinseps
I have been a passionate collector of antiques / historical items from a couple of decades .I remember how as a student in Berkeley, I was totally enamoured with a presentation by Bill Viola, and how my library card probably showed more art books than those of mathematics.
Have always been around antiques and artefacts a lot of which came from the breakup of old estates in Bengal and well understand the importance and sentiments behind even small "curios". This is partly the reason why I have been trusted with art works from two important estates in the inaugural auction.
I have spend most of my career in finance and in investment management / hedge funds. A part of the training that comes with working in funds is one of due diligence. In hedge funds for example it is common for brokers to suggest trades / trade ideas - possibly one in twenty or even lesser get implemented. It is a due diligence process , which includes in-depth research and consultations with various that helps to find the best trade ideas. The responsibility is immense - it's someone else's money after all.
A similar due diligence (what my friends in the art world refer to as excessive due diligence) is needed in the Art market. I have been actually been called a detective agency by a reputed Art restorer, but to me its just the usual due diligence process and with a rigor that most people are not familiar with and certainly surprised by.
A transparent art market in India has essentially existed since the early 2000s - if one thinks about this, one realises that the organised market for art and collectables in India is still very nascent - it has a long ways to go. The limited number of collectors and even further limited number of private museums has kept valuations quite low in comparison to the size of the country's growing economy.
Furthermore - most major sales are restricted to a handful of artists. This is a very peculiar problem in India that has been created with lack of research (and the very few who research) , an inclination to follow a fad, and the few passionate collectors who form part of the trade.The western world has a top 100 index - here in India we fixate on two or three artists. The point here was simply this - the market's focus is limited and there is ample scope for research, curation, and further discovery.
Why another auction house ? Every auction house has their niche - artists that they are familiar with or collectors of a particular artists from whom them can source quality art works. But by definition a niche is always limited and brings about opportunities for those with a different niche. Further a country like China has a thousand+ auction houses and probably at least 20 of international repute - in India that number would be easily counted in one finger.
I do think Prinseps is well positioned !