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Gandhi Memorabilia (the price of an item at auction is a reliable metrics of the cultural importance given to this object at a dedicated time)

POSTED on February 7 BEFORE THE SALE on WORLD AUCTION network, and modified on February 12 :

In my auction previews last year, I had seen and ignored a wrist watch of Longines brand. I was wrong: it was sold 600 K $ including expenses, more than 20 times its estimate, by Antiquorum in New York on October 16 and was one of the most spectacular results of the quarter. It was Albert Einstein's personal watch.

It is clear that this price is due to the personality of its owner, who revolutionized the idea that cosmographers had concerning time.

Perhaps, too, is this the beginning of a dramatic growth in the market for watches of celebrities?

The same auction house has collected for its next sale in New York on March 4 and 5 a lot of artefacts of Gandhi, including his sandals, his glasses, a bowl, a plate ... and of course his watch, otherwise there would be no reason to find this set at Antiquorum, the international auction group which is the leader of this specialty.

This silver pocket watch of Zenith brand was manufactured circa 1910-1915. Gandhi later gave it to his grand-niece, who was also his assistant. The full lot is estimated 20 K $.

Note (February 12): I corrected the estimate, I was given a higher figure on the day of my first identification of that lot.

POST SALE (just now)

$ 1.8 million before fees ($ 2.1 million charge included), this is not the price of a watch. This is the price of a very rare set of memories of Gandhi. The press in India, which became entranced by the appearance of that lot on the market, said that Gandhi was not interested in material goods and his personal effects are very rare.

The fact that this is an auction house specializing in watches which had conducted the auction to an end will remain as a curiosity in the history of sales.

Antiquorum is accustomed to very important results, and (as Christie's for Chinese bronzes from the imperial fountain) was not intimidated by political opponents to the sale. However, they reviewed their strategy at a given time.

I'm convinced (but I can not prove it now) than during my first visit to the press release on February 7, the package was proposed with a low estimate of 200 K $. That significant price made me decide to do an article on the Gandhi's watch rather than on Kennedy's. On February 12, when I came to see the catalog, all informations were consistent at 20 K $.

The information before the sale stating that it would be cancelled was the fact of Indian groups in direct negotiation with the seller. These negotiations did not succeed. This possibility of cancellation has been continuously denied by the auction house, but a seller always has the possibility to remove an item before the sale, even after the issuance of the catalog.

Kennedy's watch was sold $ 100 K before fees from a low estimate of 150 K $. Its relationship with the U.S. president was less intimate than the artefacts of Gandhi.


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Those three days -starting two days before the auction-India went into a state of excitement. Everybody was discussing about the auction. News papers, TV channels- everywhere only one thing was highlighted. No wonder those memorabilia got $1.8 million. Yes, it is the person- to whom they once belonged-that counts not the articles themselves. Anything related to Gandhiji will fetch the auctioneers millions. It is the value Indians give to the father of the Nation.
Krishna
The Auction is a transaction for what people have and what they love and would like to possessthrough transaction . Gandhi and all the SABA of Gandhi memorabilia is relevent today as priceless as the man stood for TRUTH which is getting costlier in the moraly corrupt society full of matterial welth to be transacted.

Shailendra Tiwari
www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/s/shailendra
Yes, you see lots of such things here in India. I have read this news in Today's Times of India.
Rich people in India buy lots of costly things during their foreign tours & bring them to India.
Some get these things as gifts too.
To restrict these items coming to India -which cost a developing country like India a lot in terms of foreign exchange & to promote Indian goods, Indian Govt. impose these taxes.
However in special cases, they are waived too.
If anybody can buy things that cost millions they can pay taxes too in millions. Why should we complain?
But these laws have their loop holes too. People dealing with them behave differently in different cases. I feel each case should to be dealt according to its merits.


Pierre Tavlitzki said:
Thank you Krishna and Shailendra for your comments.
I add today the link to an article of THE TIMES OF INDIA, published after the sale and dealing with import taxes for collectibles in India. Export taxes are commonplace, but I am surprised by these import taxes. Can you comment ? Pierre
Babus sitting at Delhi are having DNA of british colonial mind in which every thing is suspected and then interpreted in the intrest of govt revenue or babus personal intrest. In free democracy the reinterpretation of rules for common good of countryman is the need of the time and hope some body looks at it with a fresh view point.

shailendra
Good that they did not auction Gandhi as slave

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