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Great Canadian Portraits

Auction Fakes - The Case of the Purloined Paperweight

Hosed by the House...

Auctioneer Rip-off: An experienced antique dealer had found a rare paperweight that he know would get a great price at auction.

He approached the auction house in his area and they knew it was valuable and agreed to put it into their next Special Auction which they hold once a year.

Unfortunately, when he got his cheque back from the auction, his consigner's share of the selling price was ridiculously small - completely, and wildly, out of wack with the value of the rare paperweight.

Desperately, he called the auction house to clear up the mistake.

There was no mistake. The item sold for exactly that amount; they said it was a disappointment to them as well, but then they had no control over what bidders do at auctions. Sometimes these unfortunate things just happen...

Sold for $4,200 US
Antique Bacchus Concentric Millefiori Paperweight

What the Consigner Says Happened:

"Well, c'mon, I wasn't born yesterday. I guess I just trusted too much. Friends and acquaintances of the auctioneer and the auction scene there filled me in on the details.

My extremely valuable paperweight was pushed to the back of the auction - they kept it aside till then. Two of my friends who were there, said it was one of the last items sold. There was hardly anyone there then, they said; they were gonna buy it themselves but decided that wouldn't work out. So I got a consignee fee of next to nothing.

We all agreed it was a rotten thing to do to a very valuable item - and to me.

But you know what; that's not the worst of it. Guess who bought it?

You figure it out.

The owner of the auction - he still works but his son is the auctioneer mostly - is very well known in the city as a paperweight collector and who is always on the lookout for other rare specimens.

Explains it all of course. When the appraiser brought it to the boss, his eyes watered with envy. So guess what; they put the item at the very end of the auction, so all the serious bidders were gone. And then the house number bought it! By that I mean he bought it, with one of the numbers the auction house keeps for buying back stuff - unbeknownst to the audience - that is going too cheap, or for stuff they want for themselves...

That rare paperweight now sits in a pride of place in the auctioneer's very own living room.

It just burned me up no end.

But then I solace myself knowing that it happens to lots of other poeple too. Believe me I've heard lots since then about other people they've nicked the same way.

No more consigning to auctions; and no more trusting auctioneers, no matter how fancy the suit or shiny the shoes."

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