Accidental Collectors

The best way to collect art is to be obsessed by it, say Tanya and Sandeep Goyal whose collection of exquisite art pieces, including 800 pieces of studio ceramics and pottery, can put the best collectors to shame, says Neha Kirpal

Advertising heavyweights Tanya and Sandeep Goyal of Mogae Media are well-known names in the world of communication. With a career in advertising spanning nearly three decades with top agencies in the country, the Mumbai-based power couple is avid appreciators of all things art and aesthetic. Their collection of exquisite art pieces, including 800 pieces of studio ceramics and pottery by contemporary studios spanning across centuries and continents can put the best collectors to shame. It is possibly the largest collection in the country for modern Indian contemporary artists. Their extensive art collection of over 500 paintings includes reputed names, like ​M. F. Hussain, S. H. Raza, Gaitonde, Jatin Das, Badri Narayan and L. P. Shaw as well as nearly 200 paintings and sculptures from stylistically appeasing artists. They also have an enviable collection of masks as well as priceless chess sets from 62 countries. Apart from this, their delicate assortment of authentic art porcelain figurines have been assembled over the years from ​Lladró’s only dedicated factory in the world—in Valencia​, Spain. Talking about how they became art collectors, the Goyals say it all happened quite by accident. Having worked in advertising for most of his life, Sandeep has been surrounded by creative people forever. Thus, developing an interest for and appreciating all things artistic came naturally to him. They first began gathering ceramics and studio pottery from various Indian cities like Vadodara and Puducherry. Owing to their former association with the Japanese advertising company Dentsu, they managed to enlarge their existing collection—as studio pottery and ceramics are a major art form in Japan. From there, they took the infatuation to greater heights, expanding to collect canvases, paintings and sculptures by several Indian artists. They firmly believe that there are no cardinal rules or guidelines when it comes to collecting art. “Some of it is experience, some of it experiential,” they say. According to them, collecting art is not an ‘art’ that can be taught or learnt. It is something that one learns gradually over the years. “We began by recognizing and getting familiar with well known artists,” they add.

Their next step was to attend art openings at galleries in big cities, where they got to mingle not just with senior contemporary artists, but also seasoned art buyers and the art fraternity at large. “As budding art collectors, we slowly developed the habit of frequenting numerous galleries from time to time.” It helped to keep them in the loop of new work coming out from diverse emerging artists. Art auctions were another useful source for deciphering the art landscape. “They are a good barometer to know which artists are sought after, and being an ‘early bird’ always helps,” they say. Often rare works come up on offer, and sometimes one gets lucky. They mention that investing in pottery was another wise decision — it’s beautiful, easy to display; has plenty of choice, low ticket size, and no middlemen. The Goyals’ other unique hobby is that of amassing Toby mugs. Their current compilation—of over 300 pieces dating back to over a century—comprises rare mugs from numbered Royal Doultons, and is possibly the third largest in the world. They developed a passion for collecting these mugs ever since 1994, when they inherited a set from an acquaintance in England. The mugs are made in the form of recognizable faces like Santa Claus and famous international personalities like Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. Art to them is like any other investment. An artist’s best known ‘signature style’ is usually his or her most valued work, they advise. They also maintain that originals are always more precious than limited edition prints or lithographs. “While it is always practical to invest in the well-known names, emerging artists are like penny stocks; and known-but-less-famous artists are like mid-caps,” they say. Another pointer they give while closing a deal is to never rush until one is absolutely sure of the origin and price. They conclude that what probably worked in their favour was that they were never afraid to ask—whether for a better price, a discount, authentication, provenance, a meeting with an artist, or the philosophy behind a painting. And finally, “The best way to collect art is to be obsessed by it. Once our eyes and ears were constantly open, gradually even our noses got trained to seek it out!”

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