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Bizarre Auction World: Tweet Fetches Millions, Kingfisher House Struggles To Be Sold

Vijay Mallya, who fled to the UK in March 2016, is wanted in India over money laundering and more charges.

Vijay Mallya, who fled to the UK in March 2016, is wanted in India over money laundering and more charges.

As banks look to recover almost Rs 9,000 crores from the disgraced fugitive tycoon, business owners/bidders seem to be skeptical about jinxed businesses and Mallya's former airlines headquarters sure seems to fit the bill to a T.

Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher House, the former headquarters of the grounded Kingfisher Airlines Ltd in Mumbai, found a buyer finally but at a major low. The property, once considered a pride of place, found itself in the hands of Hyderabad-based Saturn Realters at a mere Rs 52.25 crore, which is about one-third of its reserve price of Rs 135 crore. Located near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, the house had failed to draw in buyers eight times, last in November 2019.

Valued at Rs 150 crore, initially, it went under the hammer by a debt recovery tribunal (DRT). But if one were to draw in a comparison with some of the recently-sold items up on the auction stage, one would see a lot of strange factors in the Kingfisher House case, a report in CNBC TV 18 pointed out.

A stark contrast in the case is a slice of cake from the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer that sold for £1,850 ($2,558) or Rs 1,90,000 at an auction in Britain a couple days ago.

The cake was originally given to Moyra Smith, who worked for Queen Elizabeth II’s mother at her Clarence House residence in central London. Following Smith’s death, her family sold it at the same auction house in 2008 for £1,000 to a private collector, who has now sold it at a profit.

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“It appears to be in exactly the same good condition as when originally sold, but we advise against eating it," the auctioneers said.

A similar instance is the case of the first tweet by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey which was sold for a whopping $2.9 million (£2.1 million) to a Malaysian businessman. The tweet, which said “just setting up my twttr," was first posted on March 21 in 2006. The proceeds went to charity.

Yet another such instance was a first edition of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone book that sold for a whopping £80,000 or a little over Rs 82 lakh, four times its estimated price at an auction in North Yorkshire, UK.

The report observes that in most cases pertaining to matters of acquiring businesses, bidders take a hardcore and tough approach whereas when it comes to emotional and fad items, bidders are ready to shell out the big bucks, for a sense of achievement or for sentimental value.

What mostly stacks up against Mallya’s once sought after Kingfisher House is his image. As banks look to recover almost Rs 9,000 crores from the disgraced fugitive tycoon, business owners/bidders seem to be a lot skeptical about jinxed businesses and Mallya’s former airlines headquarters sure seems to fit the bill to a T.

Kingfisher Airlines, which began operations in 2005, was forced to shut down in 2012 due to a mounting debt burden that made it difficult for the airline to continue operations. The airline is also under investigation for possible money laundering and financial violations.

The 65-year-old businessman remains on bail in the UK while a “confidential" legal matter, believed to be related to an asylum application, is resolved in connection with the unrelated extradition proceedings.

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first published:August 16, 2021, 20:36 IST