Gandhi’s glasses sell for £260,000 in UK auction

Gandhi gave gold-plated glasses to vendor’s uncle who worked for BP in South Africa in 1920s

A pair of gold-plated glasses worn by Mahatma Gandhi has sold in Britain for £260,000 after being found hanging in the letterbox of a Bristol auction house.

“We found them just four weeks ago in our letterbox, left there by a gentleman whose uncle had been given them by Gandhi himself,” East Bristol Auctions wrote on Instagram on Friday. “An incredible result for an incredible item! Thanks to all those who bid.”

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Gandhi was known for giving old or unwanted pairs of spectacles to those in need or to those who had helped him. He gave the glasses to the vendor’s uncle while he was working for British Petroleum in South Africa during the 1920s or 30s, said the auction house.

The Indian philosopher and nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 in Delhi, India. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The sale price smashed the original estimate of about £15,000. The auctioneer Andrew Stowe told Sky News earlier this month that the vendor had said: “If they’re no good, just throw them away.”

When Stowe had suggested the glasses might be worth £15,000 the man “nearly fell off his chair”.

Stowe said: “It’s a phenomenal result. These glasses represent not only an auction record for us, but a find of international historical importance.”

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