Filed under: Jewelry
The Indian government has been trying to persuade Antiquorum not to auction off Mahatma Gandhi's glasses, sandals and pocket watch in New York this week. Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of the Indian independence leader, also has bigger fish to fry. He has asked Britain to return the Koh-i-noor diamond to India. The Koh-i-Noor is a 105-carat diamond which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 (and later received a paring down from 186 carats to its current weight in order to make it appear more brilliant). The stone is mounted in a crown which was worn by the Queen Mother and was on top of her coffin when she died in 2002 and is now in the Tower of London. The stone has a long history. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal had the stone in his throne and Pakistan and Iran also have claims to the stone.
Tushar Gandhi told the London Times that the stone rightfully belongs to India and that returning it would be "atonement for the colonial past." He has been working with Indian companies and private individuals to raise funds to buy back Gandhi's pocket watch and other items and donate them to a museum (the watch could bring in $300,000). Antiquorum has said the auction will go forward so anyone who wants the pieces will have to bid on them and hope they win. The case of the Koh-i-Noor is a little trickier since it doesn't seem that Britain will be parting with it any time soon and the stone is worth millions.