The sword of Tipu Sultan changed many hands from East India Company to Vijay Mallya

May 26, 2023

By: Katya Naidu

​18th Century Sword

A sword that once belonged to the 18th century king of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, has fetched a record ₹143 crore in an auction held by Bonhams in London. Like all Indian artefacts, the provenance of the gold koftgari-hilted steel sword is one of intrigue. Koftgari is a type of Indian damascene technique used to decorate arms and weaponry.

Credit: IANS

Over the bedchamber

Tipu Sultan is known to have slept in a hammock with this sword and two pistols by his side. After he was defeated in the Battle of Seringapatam in 1799, the sword was found in his bedroom — hence it is referred to as the bedchamber sword.

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To the general

After the siege, the East India Company presented the sword to Major General David Baird for his ‘courage during the assault’. Baird had led expeditions in the Middle East and Africa, in addition to India. His successors sold the sword.

Credit: IANS

The King of good times

The sword was purchased by Vijay Mallya, the former chairman of United Spirits and the founder of Kingfisher Airlines in 2004. As the airline crash landed, his debts mounted, which he was unable to repay — and had to flee India.

Credit: IANS

Whose sword is it anyway?

After Mallya’s great escape, there was a scramble for many assets and this sword was one of them. The authorities had reportedly never found the sword.

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‘Brought me bad luck’

Mallya’s lawyers have said that they had no idea where the sword was. Mallya himself claimed in an affidavit that he ‘gave it away’ in 2016 after his family told him that it brought him bad luck.

Credit: IANS

Astonishing bid

A report by Financial Express says that the sword was purchased by Mallya for a mere ₹1.5 crore. If that’s true then its value has gone up significantly in the last few years.

Credit: Pixabay

A hot contest

Bonhams said the sword was sold after a hot contest where two bidders fought over it. Its provenance, history and craftsmanship is unrivalled, said the auction house Bonhams. The identity of its current buyer is not disclosed.

Credit: Pixabay

‘A stupendous piece’

“It is a stupendous price for a stupendous piece. I am so thrilled for our teams that worked so hard to deliver this result,” said Bruno Vinciguerra, CEO of Bonhams, as per a Firstpost report.

Credit: Pixabay

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