The highest bid at which Bristol-based auctioneer Richard Madley has sounded his hammer in his long career is $1.9 million for a cloth Renoir. On Friday,at the Indian Premier League (IPL)s Season 2 auction,he said sold for two separate $1.55 million bids. For Madley,a fan of the English cricket team,the feeling was extra special.
Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff became IPLs highest-paid cricketers overshooting Indian skipper MS Dhonis tag of $1.5 million from last year. Madley said later: I have to be fair and impartial as an auctioneer but deep inside,the fan in me felt really great.
Beyond the two big catches Pietersen by the Bangalore Royal Challengers and Flintoff by the Chennai Super Kings there were several other big-ticket sales. We wanted South Africas JP Duminy and I think that the price of $950,000 is good, said Shishir Hattangadi,a representative of the Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians.
Mukeshs wife Nita Ambani said,Sachin Tendulkar just sent a congratulations message to me from Sri Lanka, revealing the Indians captain had been in constant touch with the bidding team.
But the biggest talking point of the day was the gripping contest between Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab to sign Bangladesh paceman Mashrafe Mortaza.
Knight Riders coach John Buchanan went through tense moments as Kings XI co-owner Preity Zinta repeatedly countered their bid. Shah Rukh was on the phone from Mumbai and his words were clear,Dont let Preity buy him, Buchanan said,before explaining the merits of signing a player whose bid started at $50,000 and was secured at $600,000.
While Zinta and SRK have been connected with the IPL before,Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty was having her first feel of the auction. London-based businessman and Shettys partner,Raj Kundra,described how it was at the Rajasthan Royals table when they were bidding for little-known South African Tyron Henderson. At an auction,one is not supposed to show emotions because the other bidders shouldnt know your intentions. Since Im good at poker,I didnt. But it was tough for Shlipa. At times I had to hide her face, Kundra said.
But it was amply clear that the Royals didnt want any other team to sign the 34-year-old who helped Middlesex win the T20 County title,and who went for $650,000 even though the bidding started at just $100,000.
Despite the cut-throat competition,there were no long faces as the owners moved out of the auction hall. Given the few slots left in their squads to fill,a few thousand here and there didnt seem to matter for the men and women in sharp suits and over-sized shades.