How much for a piece of Gandhi?

Jeremy Hobson Mar 5, 2009
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How much for a piece of Gandhi?

Jeremy Hobson Mar 5, 2009
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Bill Radke: Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi certainly left his mark on the world. He did not, however, leave much behind in the way of material things. Some of what he did leave — his famous sandals and wire rim glasses — are scheduled to go up for auction today in New York. That’s despite a strong protest from India, as Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson tells us.


Jeremy Hobson: The Indian outrage over the auction comes just a week after a similar protest by China. The Chinese tried — unsuccessfully — to stop the sale of two relics they say were stolen.

Todd Sigety sits on the board of directors at the International Society of Appraisers. He says controversies like this affect the sale price of the items.

Todd Sigety: It can actually scare off people, which is what China tried to do as well, saying that they would sue anybody who purchased those.

At the same time, he says, it creates a buzz — and may add more bidders. Those bidders can buy insurance to keep the items from being repossessed.

Sigety: But I would expect if there’s an item such as these that come up that are already in dispute, the insurance is going to be outrageously expensive in order to gain coverage, so it may not even be worth it.

The sales of controversial items may not be worth it for auction houses, either. More disputes like this may force them to spend more money on risk analysis at a time when they can least afford it.

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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