LONDON: There were no takers for Mahatma Gandhi’s blood at an auction here on Tuesday when 36 of his belongings fetched 287,000 ( 2.5 crore). The biggest attraction was the will Gandhi left for his son, fetching 55,000 ( 46 lakh) followed by his personal shawl made from linen thread he spun himself ( 34 lakh).
The reserve price for the microscope slide containing Gandhi’s drop of blood was 10,000. But the maximum bid it received was 7,000 ( 6 lakh). It was one of the 14 items which found no bidders.
Gandhi’s four-page power of attorney, signed by him in November 1920, with various stamps of the Bank of Baroda and Bank of India as well as the seal of the sub-registrar of Ahmedabad was sold for 25,000 pounds ( 21 lakh). His prayer beads sold for 9,500 ( 8 lakh), sandals for 19,000 (Rs 16 lakh), drinking vessel for 8000 ( 7 lakh) and eating bowl for 12,000 ( 10 lakh).
Auctioneer Richard Westwood-Brookes had initially expected the whole bunch to fetch around quarter of a million pounds. Among the items were several important letters written by Gandhi – one of them written in 1937- settling off a highly controversial dispute within the Indian National Congress.
“The objects are well over 70 years old. Most of these were held by families without modern conservation technology. They have also been subject to difficult climate conditions and bad handling,” Brookes told TOI.
“The objects will require immediate careful conservation. If not conserved now, they will completely fall apart,” he said.
The Indian government had shown no interest in purchasing these objects, Brookes said. Speaking to TOI hours before the 50 objects went under the hammer, Brookes said, “I haven’t heard from the Indian government as yet. Though we did receive some phone calls from Indian government departments inquiring about the sale, no official confirmation on whether the government will bid to retain such relics has been given.”
Brookes, who is the historical documents expert for London-based auction house Mullocks, said: “In the earlier auctions involving Gandhi, the government had shown a lot more interest and have bid through private agents. This time the interest has been shown by common Indians.”