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Central & South Asia
Gandhi auction items sold for $1.8m
Icon's personal effects bought by Indian businessman following anger over sale.
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2009 07:26 GMT

Indian businessmen joined frenzied bidding to prevent the items falling into foreign hands [Reuters]

Several personal items that once belonged to Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian independence leader,
have been sold at a New York City auction for $1.8m.

The items were reportedly bought by VJ Mallya, a wealthy Indian businessman who reportedly plans to donate the items to the Indian government, his bidder told Reuters.

The move comes despite the seller attempting at the last minute to withdraw the items, which included a pair of Gandhi's glasses, a pair of sandals, a watch and other effects, after India reacted angrily to news of the auction.

James Otis, the California-based seller, had said earlier on Thursday he "never intended" to cause controversy, but later dropped his opposition to the sale, his lawyer told AFP.

Because of the earlier confusion Antiquorum, the auction house selling the items, had declared a two-week delay in delivering the goods to the highest bidder in order for the legal issues to be examined, although it is not clear if this will still happen.

Frenzied bidding

On Thursday Indian businessmen packed the auction room, joining frenzied
bidding to ensure that the memorabilia did not go to another country and erupting in applause when the winning bid was given.

In video


Frenzy over New York auction of Gandhi items

The Indian government had said on Thursday it planned to bid for the items at the auction, which had been expected to fetch about $30,000.

The auction had earlier been criticised in India where many see the items as part of their national heritage and fit for a museum, not a private collection.

Others said the sale went against the philosophy of Gandhi, a man who shunned material possessions and led an ascetic life.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, pioneered the philosophy of non-violent resistance to British rule in India.

He was assassinated in 1948 in New Delhi a few months after India's independence from British rule.

Source:
Agencies
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