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Sotheby's sells Gandhi archive to India for undisclosed amount

By Prasun Sonwalkar
July 10, 2012 13:26 IST
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India has purchased a rich archive comprising thousands of letters and documents related to Mahatma Gandhi, including those on his controversial relationship with architect Hermann Kallenbach.

Auctioneer Sotheby's said the deal was concluded in a 'private transaction'. However, it did not disclose the amount the Indian government paid for the documents.

"Sotheby's is pleased to announce that the Gandhi-Kallenbach archive, which had been scheduled for auction in Sotheby's English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations Auction on July 10, has been sold in a private transaction to the Indian government," a statement by the auctioneer said.

The archive was to be auctioned on Tuesday, but after a contract was signed between the auctioneer and India's ministry of culture on Friday, the auction was cancelled.

The archive, which is likely to be a rich resource for researchers and historians, was recently examined by a team of experts from the ministry of culture, who reportedly 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.

The auctioneer's Catalogue Note on the archive said that it "is richly informative of the important (and occasionally misunderstood) friendship between the two men, and is a key biographical source for Gandhi".

The archive includes "poignant letters" by the deeply troubled Harilal, Gandhi's first son, and reveals Kallenbach's deep friendship in particular with Gandhi's second son Manilal, who remained behind the Phoenix Settlement in South Africa, and his third son Ramdas.

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Prasun Sonwalkar
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