Friday, March 6, 2009

Another contested auction, and some precautions

In an earlier post, Auction disruption by fake bids, I followed an auction of Chinese artifacts that was opposed by the Chinese government, and was ultimately disrupted when the high bidder indicated that his bid was fraudulent. Today's news is of an auction in Manhattan of Gandhi memorabilia (a watch and some other personal property) opposed by the Indian government (which had offered a pre-emptive bid of $20,000 for the items in an attempt to halt the sale, and had obtained an injunction in an Indian court when this was refused): Gandhi Items Sold for $1.8 Million.

The high bidder was an Indian national who may or may not be planning to donate the items to the Indian government. The auction house took some steps intended to protect themselves against the kind of disruption by false bid that occurred in the auction of Chinese artifacts.

"For the first time, Antiquorum Auctioneers, which focuses on watches, is requiring banking references, said Mr. Maron, the chairman.
Recently, Cai Mingchao, a collector and auctioneer, raised an uproar after he submitted two winning bids for bronze sculptures from China’s Qing Dynasty at a Christie’s auction in Paris. Mr. Cai later refused to pay for the items, saying he had deliberately sabotaged the auction because the sculptures had been illegally looted in the 19th century from an imperial palace outside Beijing.
“We are concerned about what happened at Christie’s,” Mr. Maron said in a phone interview. "

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