A staff member stands in front of Francis Newton Souza’s ‘Cityscape’ at the Saffronart gallery ahead of the auction (Indranil MUKHERJEE)

Mumbai (AFP) – An art collection belonging to fugitive billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi raised $8 million for Indian tax authorities when it was auctioned off on Tuesday, officials said.

Over a third of the lots up for auction — which included works by VS Gaitonde and Francis Newton Souza — sold above their higher estimate, auction house Saffronart said in a statement.

Authorities put the paintings up for sale to recover dues owed by Modi, who is accused of involvement in a massive bank fraud that rocked India’s corporate community.

Before his downfall last year, Modi owned luxury jewellery stores in several major cities across the world and boasted celebrity customers including actresses Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas.

He fled India in February 2018 after being accused of playing a central role in the $1.8-billion fraud involving Punjab National Bank (PNB), the country’s second-largest public lender

He was arrested last week in London and is facing extradition charges.

Indian authorities have seized assets of Modi worth around $90 million, including his jewellery business, overseas bank accounts, a London property worth around $7.8 million and two others in New York valued at $29 million.

Earlier in March, Indian authorities dynamited Modi’s multi-million-dollar seafront mansion worth $14 million.

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