Lawsuit Over Chinese Clocks

The NY Daily News is reporting on a pair of clocks purchased by a clock dealer at auction for $607,000. The purchaser claims the clocks are 5 year old reproductions value around $20,000. The pair of clocks were supposed to be late 19th or early 20th century examples.

The NY Daily News reports
Time is the essence.

A rare clock business on Long Island is suing a California auction gallery, saying it paid for allegedly precious antique Chinese clocks that turned out to be fakes.

Ye Olde Time Keepers of East Rockaway shelled out $607,000 for what it thought was a “rare pair of Chinese ormolu bronze automaton clocks” crafted in a renowned imperial Guangzhou workshop during the late 19th or early 20th century.

The timepiece dealer said it got knock-off clocks instead, fabricated about five years ago in a Beijing company and valued around $20,000.

Now Ye Olde Time Keepers says the time is right to sue Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland, which it says peddled the alleged antiques.

“Every one of the representations that Clars made about the provenance of the clocks turns out to be false,” said the suit, filed Monday in Brooklyn federal court. Even worse, the lawsuit continued, Clars “either actually knew that it was auctioning counterfeit clocks, or recklessly failed to learn the actual provenance of the clocks.”

During the May 2016 auction, Clars offered up the pieces at a catalogue estimate of between $200,000 and $400,000. The auction house knew the clocks were a big deal in the clock collecting community, the suit said.

Clars said the clocks came “from an advanced Bay Area collector” who got the horologic heirlooms from a family in 2014.

Before the bidding, Ye Olde Time Keepers said it planned to buy the clocks but wanted a guarantee the timepieces were the genuine ar-tick-le.

Clars said its specialist “can confirm that this clock is late 19th/early 20th century.” But the company couldn’t say much more than what was stated in the catalogue because of confidentiality rules with the collector.

There was a 30-day post-sale inspection window to check out the goods. The suit argued Clars knew that time frame was too tight to ship the devices to China, where most, if not all, of the experts on the clocks live.

Ye Olde Time Keepers learned the clocks were schlock after the inspection window closed. It demanded the money back and Clars refused.

Clars allegedly came back with a certificate vouching for the goods. But even that turned out to be questionable, the suit said.

The August 2015 document, written in Chinese, came from the “China Horologe Association.” The suit said if the association exists, it is not even in the business of antique clock authentication — it looks to be a trade association for the country’s wristwatch and clock industry.

The certificate referred to one different clock, not two clocks. It also said the consigner came from Tianjin.

“It’s shameful Clars won’t take responsibility for selling two fake clocks to an innocent buyer — even worse, that they hide the identity of the persons who perpetrated this fraud,” said Ted Poretz, the lawyer for Ye Olde Time Keepers.

The clocks are sitting in a Hong Kong art storage facility, after experts said the items weren’t authentic antiques, according to Poretz.

Clars did not reply to a request for comment.
Source: NY Daily News

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