New York: Dramatic scenes at the Antiquorum Auctioneers on Thursday as Lot 364 featuring effects of Mahatma Gandhi went under the hammer.
The room inside was packed and included officials of the Indian Consulate in New York who had earlier spent the day conferring with the highest bidder, a representative of Vijay Mallya. After frenzied bidding, the lot drew a bid of $ 1.8 mn, for a total cost of $2.1 mn including the buyer's premium.
"I think Dr Mallya is probably going to take it to India, to his home and give it to India," says President, UB Group America, Tony Bedi.
Earlier in the day, the consignor of the lot, James Otis, spoke to the media. Just a day after making specific demands of the government of India in return for withdrawing the items, Otis said he wanted the auction house to take the tot off the block.
"Amidst the controversy, I decided not to sell the items. i have personally requested the Antiquorum to remove it from auction list," says James Otis.
But the auction went ahead anyway. Since the Delhi High Court's injunction against the sale was delivered to the auction house through the US Department of Justice, Antiquorum announced that they would delay delivery of the items in Lot 364 to the buyer for two weeks to leave time for any claims that may arise during this period.
"We are well aware of the historical significance of these things and we knew that there will be a lot of passion for Gandhiji not only from India but from all over the world," Chairman, Antiquorum Auctioneers, Robert Maron.
But in the end, it appears that the Indian Government had good reason to be satisfied with the final result of the day.