Asian interest but no bidders for Indonesian treasure sale

4th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

An auction of a 10th-century treasure trove worth an estimated 80 million dollars was in doubt Tuesday after Indonesian officials said no potential buyers had paid the hefty deposit required to bid.

The gems, crystal ware, gold and porcelain salvaged from an unidentified wreck off Cirebon, West Java, in 2004 is due to be sold in one lot by the Indonesian government in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Expressions of interest have come from collectors around Asia but none has paid the 16-million-dollar deposit, or 20 percent of the minimum sale price of 80 million dollars, by Monday's deadline, officials said.

"There are 20 interested participants, including some from overseas. Those from abroad come from Singapore, Beijing, Hongkong, Malaysia and Japan," Maritime Affairs Ministry official Sudirman Saad said.

"So far none of the interested parties has put down the security deposit but we will still hold the auction tomorrow... If there are no buyers we'll propose a second auction."

Some 271,000 pieces are on sale including rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Iranian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to around 976 AD.

The Indonesian state will take 50 percent of the proceeds and the remainder will be shared among the salvagers, including Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans' Cosmix Underwater Research Ltd.

Saad said the deposit requirement, the minimum bid or the lack of notice to potential buyers could be reasons that no parties had confirmed their participation.

© 2010 AFP

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