New York, Mar 6 (ANI): Indian liquor and airline magnate Vijay Mallya bought Mahatma Gandhi's personal belongings for Rs.9.3 crores (1.8 million dollars) in an atmosphere of high drama and frenzied bidding.
Mallya said he "bided for the country at the auction after last-ditch attempts by India to "stall the sale of the memorabilia fell through."
Mallya's representative, Tony Bedi, who bought the items for 1.8 million dollars, said his client is "really pleased with the purchase as he is bringing the heritage of the items back to India."
The circumstances of the auction were unusual; The New York Times quoted Bedi, as saying.
The controversial auction had gone ahead in New York, despite protests from India, and the United States-based owner James Otis' last-minute attempt to halt it.
The items to be auctioned included Gandhi's round glasses, a pocket watch, leather sandals, plate and bowl for sale. Otis decided to withdraw from the auction only after the bidding had begun.
The New York based Antiquorum Auction House said it would not certify the sale as final for another two weeks to allow for any legal issues to be resolved.
"The items would be kept with the auctioneer for two weeks to resolve any claims," a spokesperson for Antiquorum Auctioneers said.
As soon as the auctioneer announced sold, a large number of Indian-Americans who had come to witness the auction or to bid burst into a loud round of applause.
Community leaders expressed thaier relief that the promise of keeping Gandhi's iconic items in India had been fulfilled.
For the Indian Government, the sale was of questionable legality and threatened to deny the nation a part of its cultural legacy.
For Gandhi's descendants, the sale seemed to contradict his aversion to materialism. Gandhi himself had given away several of the items. For Otis, the sale was to be a means to promote pacifist causes, although the uproar later proved to be upsetting.
Meanwhile, Tushar Gandhi, a great-grandson of Gandhi who heads the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, said from Mumbai after the sale, "I am very happy now. Now the things will come back to India," where they rightly belonged. (ANI)