Mandela's ID

Nelson Mandela’s ID book is one of the items to be auctioned off by his daughter, Makaziwe Mandela. Images via X /@geoffreyyor.

Nelson Mandela memorabilia auction suspended

South African authorities have successfully suspended the contentious New York auction featuring Nelson Mandela’s memorabilia.

Mandela's ID

Nelson Mandela’s ID book is one of the items to be auctioned off by his daughter, Makaziwe Mandela. Images via X /@geoffreyyor.

South African authorities on Tuesday said a controversial New York auction of Nelson Mandela’s memorabilia has been suspended after the government moved to block it.

Items including the late anti-apartheid leader’s identity card and some of his iconic shirts had been listed for sale by a US auction house working with Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe.

ALSO READ: Lucky charm? Bafana Bafana sings igwijo, beats Morocco 2-0


The sale was supposed to take place in late February, but the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) said auction house Guernsey’s has decided to put it on hold following discussions.

“The suspension of the auction is a responsible and considerate approach,” the agency said.

“It allows the ongoing legal proceedings to be concluded and affords SAHRA the opportunity to pursue its objective of preserving the cultural heritage of our nation.”

ALSO READ: Halala! Bafana Bafana moves to Afcon quarter-finals [watch]

South Africa’s Ministry of Culture filed an appeal to halt the sale earlier this month, arguing it included items of historical and cultural importance.

Guernsey’s had described the auction — expected to fetch several million dollars — as “remarkable” and “unprecedented”.

ALSO READ: Jacques Nienaber responds to Bafana Bafana beating Morocco


The artifacts on offer included clothing, writings and gifts Mandela received from US presidents including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe, had authorised the event as a fund-raiser for a memorial garden to be built next to her father’s resting place in the village of Qunu, Guernsey’s said.

“This auction has been suspended,” a message on the auction house’s website read on Tuesday.

Initially advertised in 2021, the auction was already suspended once in 2022, after SAHRA launched a first bid to reclaim control over some of the items.

But South African judges dismissed the agency’s concerns, giving the go ahead to the sale last December.

SAHRA and the culture ministry have since lodged an application for leave to appeal. A decision is pending.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Bafana Bafana beat Morocco 2-0 [Highlights]

Guernsey’s president, Arlan Ettinger told AFP earlier this month that the artefacts were hardly of cultural and historical significance and would have likely ended up “on shelves in a closet somewhere and… forgotten” rather than in a museum.

© Agence France-Presse