Calgary-based real estate developer Bob Dhillon, reportedly the first Sikh billionaire in Canada, is elated as he has acquired a piece of Sikh history for the first time in Canada -- which is a 33.5-inch long curved sword of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799-1849).
It was sold by London-based auction house Mullock on April 3. Though on the official receipt the price is not indicated, the auctioneers have authenticated it.
"Initially there were over 700 bidders from all over the world," explains Dhillon in an interview.
Then on April 2 there was a private auction with a sealed bid process. The reason for the sealed bid was that a lot of the bidders wanted to remain anonymous; also the final bid amount was to remain private. Close to 175 bidders were international, from Punjab to New York to Mongolia to Hong Kong, he added.
We were told on April 3rd that I was the successful bidder for this amazing piece of history.
Dhillon, president of Mainstreet Equity Corporation with real estate holdings of over a billion dollars, wouldn't reveal the price he paid in acquiring the sword "but it is a substantial amount I paid."
He repeatedly said I'm 'absolutely elated' as Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the greatest ruler that Punjab ever had.
"He was the founder of the Sikh empire (1799-1849). After the empire was conquered by the British, most Sikh artifacts remained in the hands of private collectors or museums in Britain. I am humbled that after 165 years, my family can help our community once again become the custodian of our own history," Dhillon said.
Besides this sword, Dhillon has also acquired a number of manuscripts and miniature paintings.