LONDON – Tipu Sultan’s fabled bedchamber sword sold for £14 million ($17.4 million) at Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art sale in London on May 23. It had an estimate of £1,500,000-£2,000,000 ($1.2 million-$2.4 million). The result represents a new world auction record for both an Indian and Islamic object.
Bonhams Group Head of Islamic and Indian Art Nima Sagharchi said: “The sword has an extraordinary history, an astonishing provenance and unrivaled 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.”
Of the many weapons removed from the palace of Tipu Sultan after the fall of his royal stronghold at Seringapatam on May 4, 1799, few have such resonance nor such a close connection to Tipu Sultan, aka the Tiger of Mysore, than the Bedchamber Sword, found in his private quarters after the battle. Unquestionably part of Tipu’s own arsenal, the sword is arguably the finest and most important of the weapons with a proven personal association with the ruler.
If you are a reader of Bernard Cornwell and his Richard Sharpe series, you are already familiar with the Tipu Sultan and the Battle of Seringapatam. Serving as the backdrop for the book, Sharpe’s Tiger, it is the battle where Arthur Wellesley, soon to become the Duke of Wellington, made his reputation.