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Heritage Royal bust bought by Sikh

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by Archived_Member16, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Jan 7, 2005
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    Royal bust bought by Sikh-India-The Times of India

    Royal bust bought by Sikh

    Khushwant Singh[​IMG] - THE TIMES OF INDIA

    [​IMG] CHANDIGARH: After the SGPC's rhetoric that it would get another of the lost Sikh treasures back to India, Maharaja Duleep Singh's bust has been sold to the highest bidder — a Sikh family — to grace its private collection.

    Duleep Singh, who converted to Christianity at an early age and was the son of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh, died a penniless man in Paris in 1893. But his role in history is such that even 114 years after his death, thousands of Sikhs go on a pilgrimage to his grave at Elveden Church.

    For the Sikh community, the only consolation today is perhaps the fact that the white marble bust — commissioned by Queen Victoria and made by renowned Royal Academician John Gibson in Rome between 1859 and 1860 — went to a Sikh private investor, who bid £1.7 million. Sources closely associated with Thursday's auction told TOI called private investor, who bid £1.7 million against a starting price of £25,000-35,000 put by auctioneer Bonhams. They said the winner of the bust was a Sikh, who owned a huge business in UK.

    Sources said the bust attracted the attention not only of Sikhs, but also of non-Sikhs who are serious admirers and collectors of Gibson's work. "That's one of reason why the price went up as much as 60 times the fixed price," said a California-based Sikh collector of panthic art and a bidder for the bust. "If the bust has been bought by a Sikh family, I am delighted. It is a perfect tribute to the restless spirit of Duleep Singh."

    Harbinder Singh, director of the UK-based Maharaja Duleep Singh Centenary Trust, said: "The unprecedented interest in the bust merely demonstrates and underlines his ongoing historic and iconic status. If the bust has indeed been secured by Sikhs, it is to be welcomed. It is highly ironic that an individual whose life remained a great tragedy, reflective of the highs and lows of the Sikh nation, will now grace the home of those of his own faith from whom he was so brutally separated." Criticising the SGPC for its threats about the auction of the bust, Singh said: "They failed typically to grasp

    the nature and process of the auction and would be better suited to stop their own destruction of Sikh heritage in Punjab."

    The bust was commissioned by the Queen as she was impressed by the young Maharaja, who was 11 years old at the time of their meeting. She apparently wrote about Duleep Singh that "he is extremely handsome and speaks English perfectly... and has a pretty, graceful and dignified manner".

    The 74-cm high bust of Duleep Singh in a turban, kaftan and pearl necklace, was valued at £5 in 1926 after the death of his second son Prince Frederick, who had kept it at his Blo Norton Hall home near Diss in Suffolk. It was sold again at the Sotheby's in 1985 for £4,200 and has since belonged to a London-based 'lady of title' until the auction, according to Bonhams.


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