Gandhi auction items sold for $1.8m

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A pair of wire rimmed glasses that were owned by Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi are on display before being auctioned at Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York March 5, 2009. Several items that belonged to revered Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi were sold for $1.8 million on Thursday despite a last minute bid by the seller to withdraw them from auction. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)

Several personal items that once belonged to Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian independence leader,have been sold at a New York City auction for $1.8m.The items were reportedly bought by VJ Mallya, a wealthy Indian businessman who reportedly plans to donate the items to the Indian government, his bidder told Reuters.

The move comes despite the seller attempting at the last minute to withdraw the items, which included a pair of Gandhi’s glasses, a pair of sandals, a watch and other effects, after India reacted angrily to news of the auction.

James Otis, the California-based seller, had said earlier on Thursday he “never intended” to cause controversy, but later dropped his opposition to the sale, his lawyer told AFP.

Because of the earlier confusion Antiquorum, the auction house selling the items, had declared a two-week delay in delivering the goods to the highest bidder in order for the legal issues to be examined, although it is not clear if this will still happen.

On Thursday Indian businessmen packed the auction room, joining frenzied
bidding to ensure that the memorabilia did not go to another country and erupting in applause when the winning bid was given.