Millennium Post

Air India to sell family silver to ease finances

Cash-strapped Air India is looking forward to using assets it has built up over the years like priceless paintings, sculptures and even a prime property to ease financial stress.

A company official said plans are being finalised to rent out some of these magnificent pieces and the iconic Nariman Point headquarters in Mumbai. 'We are planning to appoint a consultant for cataloguing and valuation of the art works,' a senior Air India official said.

'The art works may be rented out to galleries around the world. On a later stage these may be sold as well,' he said, not wishing to be identified.

The consultant that will be hired by the airline will have a hard time to put exact value to the huge collection which deals with Indian history and culture.

Some 18 paintings of Husain are part of the collection. A few of these date back to the 1940s. Each of these paintings can command a price of no less than Rs 5-6 crore in open bidding process, the official said.

Other artifacts under the carrier's possession include centuries-old exotic wooden carvings portraying mythology. For example, a carving shows Ravana carrying Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha.
Most of these 400 artifacts adorn the walls of the Mumbai building and the airline's offices in New York, London and Paris.

The iconic 22-storey Air India building at Nariman Point which houses the chairman and managing director's office can command a handsome rent of Rs 290-350 per square feet.

'The plan is to retain the top three floors of the building, while the rest would be rented out. We expect to get anywhere between Rs 30-40 crore per annum. We will go for an open tender for the renting process,' the official said.
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