Hours after high drama and frenzied bidding, Mahatma Gandhi’s personal belongings were bought for USD 1.8 million by industrialist Vijay Mallya, who said he “bidded for the country” at the auction after last-ditch attempts by India to stall the sale of the memorabilia fell through.
Just before the auction, owner of the items James Otis had agreed to withdraw them from the auction but the auction house did not agree. It argued that it could have a big liability if it allowed the items to be withdrawn from the auction as more than 30 bidders had already registered for them and some have even sent in written bids.
The community leaders expressed relief that the promise of keeping Gandhi’s iconic items, including his glasses, sandals, pocket watch, plate and a bowl, in India has been fulfilled.
Mallya’s move came as a total surprise as his name was never mentioned among those who might bid for the items. The bid on the floor was made by his representative Bedi and it was not until the auction was over that the liquor baron’s name surfaced to the surprise of everyone present.