Where: New York, USA
March 6, 2009 : Indian industrialist Vijay Mallya bought Gandhi’s belongings at a New York auction for $1.8 million (Rs 9 crore). The trademark wire frame spectacles, pocket watch, brass bowl and plate set and a pair of leather sandals had belonged to Mahatma Gandhi, India’s most revered national leader. They were owned by American James Otis, and he put them up for sale at the auction house Antiquorum.
The Indian government had tried to prevent the auction, as it wanted the items to be returned to the country. Mahatma Gandhi’s legal heir is the Navjivan trust. The Trust filed a petition against the auction in the Delhi High Court, and obtained an order of restraint. This also made it impossible for the Indian government to bid in the auction without overriding a court ruling.
Mr. Mallya’s representative made the highest bid and clinched the sale. Bidding started at $20,000, but reached $1 million in seconds. Indians present at the auction rejoiced. Later, the joy spread to India, at the thought of this ‘heritage property’ returning home. Mr. Mallya owns an airline and breweries, as well as one of the Indian Premier League cricket teams.