London/New Delhi: Mahatma Gandhi's prized documents and photographs, including those on his controversial relationship with architect Hermann Kallenbach, were saved from going under the hammer as India bought the treasure trove for a whopping $1.28 million.
The archive, which belonged to Kallenbach, Gandhi's close friend and German Jewish bodybuilder, was to be auctioned at Sotheby's on Tuesday but it was cancelled after the back-channel talks by the Indian government with the auction house and the family members of Kallenbach helped India take possession of the rare documents.
The documents will now be housed at the National Archives of India in New Delhi.
The archive, which belonged to Kallenbach, Gandhi\'s close friend and German Jewish bodybuilder, was to be auctioned.
An agreement was finalised in consultation with Ministry of External Affairs and National Archives of India and was signed by the three parties – government of India, Sotheby's and the family of Isa Sarid, the grandniece of Kallenbach.
"The acquired material would be housed in the National Archives of India," Culture Minister Kumari Selja said in a statement in New Delhi.
Though the Sarid family, which owns the treasure trove, quoted $5 million as price for the archives, finally an amount of $1.28 million was paid.
"The payment of GBP 825,250 pounds ($1.28 million) has been released to Sotheby's and the lot has been withdrawn from auction and sold to the Government of India," the statement said.
The archive, which is likely to be a rich source of information on Gandhi for researchers and historians, was recently examined by a team of experts from the Ministry of Culture, who described it as "very well preserved and of inestimable value".
The archive includes several letters that throw fresh light on the controversial relationship between Gandhi and Kallenbach, one of the foremost associates and friends of Gandhi during his time in South Africa.