Sotheby’s: Sikh relic doesn’t belong to Guru Gobind Singh
Following Sotheby’s clarification on Thursday that the steel armour going under the hammer on April 9 in London does not belong to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru, the community is breathing easy, but not enough to let the auction house off the hook.
Avtar Singh Makkar, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), has called a meeting of its newly constituted committee of historians and academics on Saturday to verify the armour’s origin. “Regardless of the auction house’s claims, we want all the details about the armour and whether it can lead us to other relics of our Gurus,” Makkar said.
Meanwhile, reports from London state that the wealthy British Sikhs, who were preparing to bid at the event, are now winding up their plans after Sotheby’s clarification. A statement by Sotheby’s on Thursday said: “It’s important that you know that Sotheby’s doesn’t consider the Sikh armour plate to be a relic of Guru Gobind Singh, as our cataloguing and estimate clearly indicate,”
“We believe that complaints about the proposed offering are based on a misreading of Sotheby’s cataloguing, which points to a stylistic similarity to a full set of armour in the possession of the Patiala royal family, which it attributes to Guru Gobind Singh,” it added.
The auction house also promised to add a sale room note for clarity: “Sotheby’s has undertaken due diligence to verify the provenance of this piece, believed to date to the 18th Century. Sotheby’s hasn’t found or been given any evidence to indicate ownership of this piece by Guru Gobind Singh and we, therefore, do not deem the piece to be a relic of the Guru.”
British Sikhs, who were making inquiries about the armour auction, included Sikh industrialist Kartar Lalwani. Meanwhile, Makkar continued to hold Sotheby’s responsible for the confusion.
“Their catalogue clearly states that ‘the existence of this plate points to the possibility that the Guru commissioned more than one such set’. Now they have come out with the truth, but we’d still like an independent verification of the piece and whether it could lead to other belongings of the Gurus,” he stated.