Washington, D.C., March 2, 2009 - James Otis, the California collector who plans to sell
possessions once owned by Mahatma Gandhi, told the Voice of America's (VOA) Hindi Service that it
never occurred to him the sale would create such an uproar.
"I don't want anger or conflict or any kind of fury," said Otis, a peace activist, in his first
telephone interview from Los Angeles Friday with VOA's Niharika Acharya.
Otis told Acharya that he collected Gandhi's possessions, including sandals and glasses, over a
number of years from various sources such as dealers, family members and auctions. The interview
was first posted at www.VOANews.com/Hindi.
When he signed a contract with a New York auction house, Antiquorum Auctioneers, to sell the
items, Otis said it "didn't occur there would be an outcry over these possessions . . . Gandhi
didn't value possessions . . . and I don't either."
Officials in the Government of India have said they would buy the possessions, which are
scheduled to be auctioned on March 4, 2009. Otis said Indian officials have not approached him, but
if they did, he would be willing to try to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all
Otis is currently making a documentary with Lester Kurtz, a professor of sociology at George
Mason University in Fairfax, Va., entitled, Peaceful Warriors: The History of Nonviolence.
Otis, who said his long-term goal is to promote non-violence worldwide, would like to see Gandhi's
possessions go on worldwide tour as a way of educating people about peace.
Besides Gandhi's glasses and sandals, the items include a pocket watch and utensils.
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