• Bloomberg


Not even Marilyn Monroe’s pink dress could match Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suit.

The black suit, with his name Narendra Damodardas Modi printed in pinstripes, was auctioned for 43 million rupees ($690,735) in Surat, said Rajendra Kumar, the senior-most bureaucrat in the city. Monroe’s shocking pink dress from the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes fetched $310,000 in 2010, according to Vogue magazine.

Modi wore the suit when he hosted U.S. President Barack Obama on the lawns of the colonial style Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Jan. 25. Close-up photographs of the suit published by a newspaper drew the ire of the opposition and even became a discussion point in this month’s local elections in New Delhi.

The highest bidder for the suit was Laljibhai Tulsibhai Patel, a Surat-based diamond trader. The winner had until 5 p.m. Saturday to provide a check for the full amount before taking delivery, Kumar said.

Modi also had another 454 articles that he received during his nine months in office auctioned, along with 361 others belonging to the chief minister of Gujarat state. This includes a shirt from the Australian cricket association gifted to him during his visit last year and a replica from Pashupatinath temple in Katmandu.

“Each item is unique and each holds different meanings for people,” Kumar said in a phone interview. “There are items from all over the country and the world. It’s a great exhibition and a great show.”

Ramesh B. Virani, a diamond merchant, told ANI news agency he had gifted Modi the suit for him to wear at Virani’s son’s wedding.

While the money from the auction of Modi’s articles will go to a fund for cleaning the Ganges river, that from the Gujarat chief minister’s collections, which included Indian tribal arts and artifacts, will be used for girls’ education.

Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white dress, which she wore in the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch,” was sold for $5.6 million, according to Vogue magazine.

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