iCollector Removes Gauguin Paintings from eBay Live Auctions
By Ina Steiner
Two Gauguin paintings that were scheduled to be auctioned on eBay Live Auctions on April 23 were removed by iCollector on April 10. iCollector said the auction was removed at the request of the client. But the client, Auction Brokers LLC in Phoenix, Arizona, was initially unaware that the auction had been removed.
Auction Brokers had sent out a press release announcing the Gauguin sale on eBay Live Auctions in March. The contact for the press release was an iCollector representative, which Boris Baich of Auction Brokers said was a mistake on the part of "the gal working for me" who issued the press release.
When a Website based in Denmark questioned the authenticity of the paintings, it listed the iCollector representative and Auction Brokers as the seller (http://www.artfakes.dk). Baich said the iCollector representative was concerned about misrepresentation that he was the seller, and believes that was why iCollector removed the auction. Baich said he was auctioning the painting for a consignor, and confirmed that iCollector was not the seller.
Auction Brokers is an auction house based in Phoenix, Arizona, and was using iCollector's technology to list on eBay Live Auctions. Baich was surprised to hear on Sunday that iCollector had removed the auction from the eBay Live Auctions platform. He said the paintings had been authenticated by "a fellow in Austria" and a museum in Croatia, and offered to send AuctionBytes the certified translations of the documents on Sunday. The next day, Baich said he would have iCollector send the documents to AuctionBytes.
Baich said the paintings did not have much provenance, "they haven't been hanging in museums," he said. He did not reveal the name of the consignor, but said the party was based in the United States.
The auction was for a Gauguin painting, "Girl with Dog" and another Gauguin that was attached to the reverse side of the first painting. The auction estimate was between $5 million to $10 million.
Torsten Bonn of Able Auctions, which owns iCollector, said iCollector is the technology provider and the company does not guarantee art. If it comes to their attention that an auction item's authenticity is in question, iCollector will try to communicate to the client and recommend they hold off on the sale until the matter is straightened out, Bonn said. If the client chooses to proceed, Bonn said it depends on the sale whether iCollector would continue with the sale.
eBay Live Auctions is a premier part of the eBay.com site where, according to eBay, "you can now bid real time on live auctions happening on the floor of some of the world's greatest auction houses!"
Boris Baich is a member of the National Auctioneers Association. In the 1990s, he was co-owner of SAL Leasing, a sales and lease-back company.
Another auction house in Arizona said it was their understanding the Gaughin was not authenticated. They turned the painting away a few months ago, and said things might have changed since then. After commenting, they requested their name not be used in this story.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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