Conditions of sale, Antiquorum Hong Kong, June 2015: “Antiquorum affirms no ability or obligation to perform due industriousness on any parcel.”
Imagine one of the most noticeably terrible things that could happen to you as a watch authority: your house is invaded by burglars and your whole assortment is vivacious away.
Thankfully, when you surge home you discover your family shaken however safe, yet your assortment of special watches developed over many years is gone; just the cases and papers remain.
You call the police and round out wrongdoing reports, and you spread the expression of your misfortune on major watch gatherings, through companions who maintain vaults of a portion of the watches being referred to, and with the manufacturers themselves.
And then you wait, trusting that a portion of the watches will eventually arise so you can reclaim them.
Well, this scenario actually happened to an old buddy of mine, Nicolas, who is for me the living meaning of the expression “enthusiast gatherer.” Nicolas is the long-lasting moderator of the Jaeger-LeCoultre discussion on PuristsPro, and in barely nine years in this position he has contributed an astounding 115,000 posts – and counting.
On January 18, 2011, Nicolas was at SIHH when word arrived of the break-in at his Paris home; over the course of the following several years, he kept on administering his irresistible brand of watch enthusiasm while occasionally mourning the deficiency of his pieces until one day a ray of light arose. At its October 25, 2015 auction, Antiquorum had sold one of Nicolas’ watches: the A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Anniversary watch no. 185/500.
Amazingly, Antiquorum had recorded and sold the watch despite the fact that information was readily available in general visibility before the sale, remembering for the Antiquorum-possessed gathering site www.timezone.com , announcing it as stolen.
The winning bidder unearthed this information inside a couple of days after purchasing the watch and immediately restored the watch to Antiquorum with the demand for a refund.
Nicolas also got expression of the sale through companions and contacted Antiquorum, giving a duplicate of the original papers for the watch (which were as yet in Nicolas’ ownership) and the police report of the theft.
A month later, Antiquorum reacted to Nicolas’ reaction for an update with the news that it had “cancelled the sale and restored the watch to the consignor.”
Nicolas opened up to the world about his story on December 26, 2015 (see Antiquorum and taken watches: Langematik Anniversary Nr 185/500 ), and reaction from the authority community was rapid and energetic. How is it possible that it would be that any reputable business would energetically restore taken property to somebody who was not its legitimate owner?
I’ve spoken with several knowledgeable people, including companions who have been in similar situations, and it appears to be that things are perhaps not as straightforward as they would appear at first.
Perhaps the most ideal way to illustrate this is with an alternative recounting occasions: suppose you’re an authority and you’ve been searching for some time for a Langematik Anniversary piece like the one appeared in the photograph below.
Through an established dealer, you locate a clean-looking, used piece that is selling at today’s prevailing market cost of about $38,000 and you execute a deal, saving a couple of bucks by negotiating a lower cost because of the absence of matching box and papers.
A few years later, you choose you really wanted an alternate piece by A. Lange & Söhne and you put the watch available to be purchased. Unexpectedly, serious trouble rises to the surface as an earlier proprietor claims that the watch was taken from him. The watch is gone over to the authorities and ultimately to its earlier owner.
That doesn’t appear to be too fair either, does it?
As it ends up, the law may simply agree with you. As a “bona fide purchaser for value,” as long as you didn’t know that the property was taken and you paid a fair market cost for it, you have solid claims to title for the watch under both New York law and Section 2-403 of the U.S. Uniform Commercial Code; the latter places additional load on the fact that you purchased through a dealer upon whom you could reasonably depend for reputable dealing.
Some of the same tests appear to exist in French law, and Swiss law gives title to taken property to a resulting purchaser in the event that he can demonstrate that he acted in compliance with common decency (Autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church of Cyprus v. Goldberg and Feldman Fine Arts Inc.).
But this interpretation isn’t universal, even in the United States. In Newman v. Stewart and Eisenberg v. Grand Bank for Savings, the Mississippi Supreme Court and U.S. 5th Circuit Court controlled “neither the criminal of taken property nor his transferees can pass on any title or property option to such property. A bona fide purchaser of taken property acquires no title or interest therein.”
Similarly, it appears to be likely that Hong Kong’s British legal foundations dictate that the guideline of nemo dat quod non habet (literally, “nobody gives what he doesn’t have”) applies: a cheat cannot pass great title to taken goods.
So how about we see: we have a Swiss company dealing with a watch that was taken in France, sold in Hong Kong (allegedly by a Chinese proprietor), and purchased by an American. What to do?
Antiquorum’s reaction? As communicated to Nicolas: “We have counseled our legal advice in NY and HK how to handle this case. Due to the ambiguity of title, we have been advised to return the piece to the consignor.”
In my assessment, it’s a profoundly disappointing outcome relative to the choice of surrendering the watch to the relevant authorities forthcoming goal of possession, and I accept the gatherer community was right in characterizing Antiquorum’s actions as “convenient” rather than principled; however now it’s done.
While I’m no lawyer, it appears to be likely that to reclaim his watch my companion Nicolas would be faced with need to seek after authority all the way back up the chain of proprietors (starting with the individual who relegated the watch to Antiquorum, in the event that he can gain divulgence of that individual’s personality) across geographies and locales, at his own cost, until he discovers somebody who was not a “bona fide purchaser.”
What a mess!
Don’t let this happen to you
Of course, its absolutely impossible to insulate yourself 100% against life’s issues, however perhaps a couple of common-sense steps will assist you with avoiding this particular pain like those that follow.
Secure your property. I have a safe box at the bank, and I use it. Indeed, it’s somewhat of a pain going in and out all of the time, however at least the bank usually has free espresso on offer. And while personal property insurance on recorded things appears to be awfully costly when you’re composing the check, it can both give peace of mind and repay you in the occasion you drop your Richard Mille down the toilet.
Report any misfortunes. If the most exceedingly awful occurs, make it known. A full police report will give the basis to insurance claims and establish your possession claim. A few brands also maintain taken watch libraries and will seize taken watches hence returned for administration. Additionally, several online gathering individuals maintain lost watch libraries, and arising on the web administrations, for example, thechronoregistry.ch and thewatchregister.com give additional places to list your lost pieces.
Buy the merchant. Yes, it’s an old chestnut, yet one to regard: I like to deal with individuals I know. And, in particular, I’ll make my own decisions about whether later on I will place my trust in Antiquorum based on the behavior demonstrated in this case.
Eyes totally open. I’ve purchased at auction and tally several auction house representatives among my old buddies. At the same time, I understand that the matter of the auction house is to facilitate transactions. At the margin auction houses earn, one ought to anticipate that they should act accordingly, regardless of whether that’s in condition announcing or establishing provenance.
The small print of auctioneers’ locales is loaded with statements like “recipient makes no representations about responsibility for watch,” “to the furthest reaches passable under applicable law, Agent and the merchant disclaim and bar any and all different warranties of any sort relating to the parts,” and “all parcels are sold on an as-is basis.”
Box and papers. Are there watches without papers that are completely legitimate? Obviously! I own a couple myself, as I by one way or another managed to trash several case and paper sets when I relocated my home in 2003. Yet, when you see a piece for resale that has no papers, burrow somewhat more profound. And at whatever point conceivable, attempt to get a clear paper trail all the way back to the original retail purchase.
Do your own research. Before purchasing at auction or from somebody not notable to you, check on the web (or even consider plunking down the 10 pounds for a keep an eye on www.thewatchregistry.com ) to look at the serial number or restricted version number.
A word to venders. Get the cash in the bank! You’d believe that selling would be safer than purchasing as you will have the cash in hand before you send the watch, yet the world is brimming with fake cashier’s checks and even false wire transfers. At the point when I sell, I wait until the wire is completely affirmed by my bank and then transfer the cash into a subsequent account and wait for the confirmation there prior to allowing the watch to out of my sight. Sounds extraordinary, however a dear companion of mine was the survivor of a scam cash transfer and never got his watch – or the cash – back.
Our side interest is loaded with such an excess of fun and such countless great individuals that it’s sad to have to deal with the more unsavory components every once in a while. Hopefully that you stay safe out there, and that as a gatherer community we keep on watching out for each other and hold miscreants to account.
Antiquorum and taken watches: Langematik Anniversary Nr 185/500