Lot 364 at New York’s Antiquorum Auctioneers had a reserve of about $20,000 and by the end of the auction, bids had been received for up to the staggering amount of $2 million. But the highly popular auction for Mahatma Gandhi’s iconic glasses became controversial after various calls (bolstered by the Indian Government itself) that it was of questionable legality, that it threatened to remove a national treasure from India, and tampered with the Gandhi legacy. People were particularly incensed that the sale itself was a contradiction of Gandhi’s own anti-materialist principles.

The twist in the tale is that Vijay Mallya, an Indian liquor and airline executive who owns the company that makes Kingfisher beer, turned out to be the winner of the auction and subsequently declared that he will be returning the glasses to India for public display. Added to that, the happy ending was that Tushar Gandhi, 49, a great-grandson of Gandhi, hasbeen reported as saying “I am very happy now. Now the things will come back to India to where it rightly belongs.”

I recommend reading the NY times coverage of the exciting auction process and surrounding controversy here and here.

So what do you think? If the auction had not gone ahead, as everyone was calling for, the glasses would be probably still be hidden in the collection of filmmaker James Otis somewhere in Los Angeles. But now that it has gone ahead, the glasses are returned to delight crowds in a museum in India.