Nov 20, 2014

Auction Buyer Beware: Ivory Hazardous to Your Financial Health

Ivory figure
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recently released a 40-page report titled “Bidding Against Survival: The Elephant Poaching Crisis and the Role of Auctions in the U.S. Ivory Market.” The report is worrisome, because it appears that most U.S. auctioneers haven’t gotten the message that selling undocumented ivory is illegal, and auction buyers don’t seem to have gotten the message, either. These facts, where they know it or not, could be extremely hazardous to their financial health, as buyers of the ivory offered at auction risk the loss of their purchases and additional fines.

Auctioneers wouldn’t be offering ivory if buyers weren’t bidding on it. I just did a quick search on Auctionzip.com for the keyword “ivory” and found 485 live auctions in the month of October 2014 that were offering ivory for sale in the U.S.

Most auction houses “pass the documentation buck” to the purchasers of ivory. The IFAW report states: “When asked about what kinds of documentation the auction house provided when selling ivory items, several galleries said “none” or that it was up to the buyer to secure such information. One staff member said, “The person needs to take care of themselves, if they buy the ivory.” This was a common attitude among staff at many of the auction houses visited, placing the legal responsibility for following endangered species laws on the customer. In essence, the auction houses are saying “we want to sell you the ivory and get top dollar for it, but we are not willing to provide you with provenance.” Read More >>>

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