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Heritage of Le Corbusier's Indian city being 'sold off'

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Scholars have warned that the Le Corbusier-designed city of Chandigarh in north-west India is being stripped of its heritage.

Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, Chandigarh was designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in the 1950s and has become a living monument to Le Corbusier's Modernist vision.

But now, art dealers are paying rock-bottom prices not just for furniture designed for the city's utilitarian buildings, but for manhole covers and other street fixtures, and selling them off for massive profits in European auction houses.

In a sale on 5 June at Christie's New York, French art dealer Eric Touchaleaume auctioned 50 lots of furniture and artifacts, all of which had come from the Indian city.

Indian webzine Outlook India reported that a Chandigarh manhole cover fetched a staggering $21,600 (£10,600).

Rajnish Wattas, principle of the Chandigarh College of Architecture, said people were 'outraged at the manner in which Le Corbusier's legacy [was] being sold off by Chandigarhians'.

The city is formed of 800 x 1,200m sectors laid out in a grid pattern. It is the site of some of Le Corbusier's most important post-war buildings, including the Assembly Hall and the Palace of Justice.

by Max Thompson

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