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Last Updated: Friday, 21 March 2008, 09:14 GMT
Record US sale for Indian artist
Husain painting 'Ganga-Yamuna'
Husain painted 'Ganga-Yamuna' in 1971
A painting by one of India's best-known artists, Maqbool Fida Husain, has sold for a record $1.6m at an auction in the American city of New York.

The art work, titled "Ganga-Yamuna", was sold by auction house Christie's. It was painted in 1971.

Outside the venue, a group that lobbies for Indian Americans held a protest, demanding the auction be scrapped.

Husain has incurred the wrath of hardline Hindu groups in India for painting Indian goddesses in the nude.

In 2006, he publicly apologised for a painting in which he depicted India as a nude goddess.

Hindu nationalist groups accuse Husain - a Muslim - of hurting their religious sentiments by painting Hindu gods and goddesses in a ''derogatory and vulgar'' form.

The painter's work has been critically acclaimed worldwide.

'Notoriety'

In a letter sent to Christie's earlier this week, the president of the Indian American Intellectual Forum, a lobby group, warned of protests unless Christie's withdrew the auction of Mr Husain's paintings.

The auction house rejected demands to withdraw the controversial artist's work.

Mr Kataria's letter said MF Husain had gained "ignominy and notoriety" in India by painting hurtful images of Hindu gods.

MF Husain
Husain is one of India's most eminent artists

Last year police in India's financial capital Mumbai (Bombay) began legal proceedings to seize property belonging to Mr Husain.

The order came after he failed to attend hearings in a court regarding an obscenity case filed against him.

Mr Husain is now thought to be living in the Middle East.

Correspondents say that his paintings are much sought after and some have been auctioned for fantastic sums.

He has even made two Bollywood films, although both bombed at the box office.

Husain is almost a cult figure in the world of Indian art.

The 89-year-old artist is a maverick who is one of India's most successful artists.

With flowing white hair and long beard, he is known to walk barefoot at social gatherings.



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