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Great Canadian Ripoffs

The Case of the Hi-jacked Jewelry

Juggled out of jewelry...

Auctioneer Rip-off:
A long time antique dealer, and informed collector, from a small town in Ontario found three lots of antique jewelry he knew were valuable.

A prestigious Toronto auction house advertised, in the London Free Press, that their experts were going to be in the city to offer free appraisals for valuable items people might consider putting in one of their special auctions in their Toronto showroom.

The consignor took his three lots to the swanky hotel where the auction house appraisers had set up shop.

The lots consisted of: a suite of opal, diamond, and pearl jewelry, a Victorian jewelled butterfly brooch, and an antique jewelry box.

The auction’s appraisal experts confirmed his belief that they were valuable and appraised them for several thousand dollars.

He decided that if they could get those amounts for them he would consign them to their next special auction house sale in Toronto. He did not attend.

But a friend of his did. And what he reported back did not make the consignor happy.

The auctioneers had put his three lots into the back end of the catalogue, at the end of the sale; they did not go on the block till the wee hours of the morning, at a time most buyers have gone home, and items sell for miserably small amounts.

He got a cheque for just over $100 dollars, from a sale that got far, far below what the auction house experts had said the items were worth.

How could they do such a thing, and miss out on a higher percent of the gross on which they depend for making a profit? Right?

What the Consigner Says Happened:

"Well, I knew the stuff was valuable; that's why I brought it to them in the first place. The appraisers thought so too. So they made me a tempting offer, saying it would get this large amount at one of their auctions. I mean they're the pros. They know what items like this get from the people that attend their auctions. After all they've done this for a living for years. They ought to know; they're the experts; they know the amounts. I mean I never knew it would backfire on me like it did.

Otherwise I never would have done it; gamble with my valuable property like that. But the appraisers were strong, so I gave it to them. Well, I thought they were honest too; you expect that, don't you from one of the top auction houses in Toronto?

Well, so then they had my stuff, and I lost control... That's what happened...

I believe, now, they were out to screw me from the beginning. Lookit what they did. In their special auction, they gave all three items high lot numbers - all together at the end of the auction. I mean, why not put them somewhere at the beginning, or in the middle of the auction, when all the valuable items are sold, and all the biggest bidders are there.

Why dump them at the back of the sale, when everybody's gone home, and only the bottom feeders are left to pick up the items that sell off for peanuts.

I didn't go to the auction, but a friend did. He says my items came up near the very end at 1 a:m in the morning. Not even I am up at that time of night! They were sold dirt cheap to some very lucky bidder...

You want me to go on?

Well, you know what? The auction house did all that on purpose; and they bought them with the house number. You know, the number they call out - they use the numbers to protect the identity of the buyers - when an item's sold. The auction house has several numbers they use to buy things for themselves; they vary them to keep other bidders from getting suspicious.

So that's how they got my stuff dirt cheap so they would only have to remit back to me - as the consignee - a very small amount, you know, a small percent of a small selling price.

I got back less than what I had invested in the pieces to buy them in the first place!

It can’t get worse than that, can it?

Well listen up; the auctioneers now owned my three lots themselves...

What good is that you say if they sold cheap?

Well two weeks later, a business associate of mine was watching a New York auction site, when lo and behold, all three of my lots, the exact same jewellery lots came up, and you guessed it, sold for big amounts, extremely big amounts.

And guess who made all the extra thousands of dollars profit.

I don't consign anything anymore to those fancy dressers from Toronto. Those auction house guys are all the same.

I've had lots of other dealers tell me other horror stories; so don't think it's only sour grapes over some simple mistake.

It's deliberate fraud; and they do it because they can, and because there are no controls to make them stop. Hell they're not even worried they will be caught.

But it won't be me ever again..."

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