Bloody grass "from Gandhi assassination" to be sold

Tue Apr 3, 2012 12:16pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Samples of soil and blades of bloody grass purportedly from the spot where Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 will go on sale in Britain later this month and are expected to fetch 10-15,000 pounds ($16-24,000).

Mullock's auctioneer in western England said it was confident the artefacts were genuine, because they came with a letter of provenance from original owner P.P. Nambiar who collected them after the revered "Father of the Nation" was shot by a Hindu radical.

The samples also matched the account Nambiar gave of the events of 1948 in which he described finding a drop of Gandhi's blood on the grass which he collected.

"I cut the grass and also took two pinches of soil from the brink of the pothole which I wrapped in a piece of Hindi newspaper found nearby," he wrote.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, the auction house's historical documents expert, said it was often difficult to prove whether such artefacts were genuine, and his attribution of paintings to Adolf Hitler has been questioned by art experts in the past.

"In this situation I've got a letter from the guy who collected it -- P.P. Nambiar, and I've also got the pages from his book that he published in which he described collecting this soil," Westwood-Brookes told Reuters.

"So in this situation I don't think there can be any doubt."

He was also confident that a pair of spectacles made in Gloucester, also in western England, and dating from around 1891 had once belonged to the Indian independence hero.   Continued...