A sword that comes from the private collection of Tipu Sultan, the famed 18th century Indian ruler known as the Tiger of Mysore, went under the hammer for a whopping £14 million when it was auctioned at Bonhams in London this week.
It was found in the bedchamber of Tipu Sultan and presented to Major General David Baird by the Army of the East India Company as a “token of their high esteem of his courage and conduct in the assault” which resulted in the killing of Tipu Sultan. The estimate from the sword was set between £1,500,000 and £2,000,000, which was comfortably surpassed during the Islamic and Indian Art sale to attract £14,080,900.
Nima Sagharchi, Group Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Bonhams, said: “The sword has an extraordinary history, an astonishing provenance and unrivalled craftsmanship.
“It was no surprise it was so hotly contested between two phone bidders and a bidder in the room. We are delighted with the result."
According to historians, of the many weapons removed from the palace of Tipu Sultan after the fall of his royal stronghold at Seringapatam in May 1799, few have such resonance or such a close connection to the ruler who was a fierce opponent of the colonisers from the East India Company in Britain. The bedchamber sword is dubbed among the finest and most important of weapons with a proven personal association with the anti-colonial warrior.
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Oliver White, Bonhams Head of Islamic and Indian Art and auctioneer, said: "This spectacular sword is the greatest of all the weapons linked to Tipu Sultan still in private hands.
“Its close personal association with the Sultan, its impeccable provenance traceable to the very day it was captured, and the outstanding craftsmanship that went into its manufacture make it unique and highly desirable."
Bruno Vinciguerra, CEO of Bonhams, added: "This is one of the most astonishing objects Bonhams has had the privilege of bringing to auction. It is a stupendous price for a stupendous piece. I am so thrilled for our teams that worked so hard to deliver this result.”
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The weapon itself is said to be of "exceptional" quality with the blade inscribed “The Sword of the Ruler” and the hilt is inlaid in exquisitely executed gold calligraphy.