Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s blue-leather-and-gilt dairy has fetched the highest price of any Indian manuscript that ever went under the hammer.
The journal, in which Tagore had penned poetry, calculations and musings on art from 1889 to 1904 went under the hammer for a whopping sum of Rs17 million at the Christie’s auction in Mumbai on Thursday.
“It’s likely the highest sum paid for a manuscript at an auction in India,” said Sonal Singh, head of Christie’s Mumbai office.
The antiquity, which was among the most interesting additions at the London-based auction house’s ‘India Sale’, had a base price of Rs4 million. The final price, with buyer’s premium included, is approximately Rs26.2 million.
“Tagore always had a special place in the hearts of the Indian and he will continue to occupy the same. Any amount of money cannot justify his contributions to India society and art be it in music or drama. He had played a critical role in India’s fight for freedom which was acknowledged even by Mahatma Gandhi,” said a representative of the buyer seeking anonymity. “Also there are few of his manuscripts which are owned privately,” the representative said. Visva Bharati University at Shantiniketan, in West Bengal, is the primary custodian of Tagore’s manuscripts. Few years ago, there was even a copyright and only they could publish the same, which was later abolished under assent of the President of India.