Languages
Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 11:23 UK

Indonesia treasure auction fails to attract bidders

A 10th Century treasure from the wreck found off Cirebon, Java
A 10th Century treasure from the wreck found off Cirebon, Java

An Indonesian auction of more than 270,000 treasures recovered from a 10th Century Chinese shipwreck has failed to attract a single bidder.

Organisers had hoped the sale would raise $80m (£52.7m), which would have been one of the largest sums raised at auction in the country.

Officials said there had been some 20 expressions of interest but no-one paid the $16m deposit required to bid.

They said a second sale would be held at a later date.

The treasure, found on a 10th Century Chinese ship off the coast of West Java in 2004, is believed to be one of the largest troves ever found in Asia.

In total some 271,000 items were being offered at the sale in the capital, Jakarta.

"Ceramics account for about 90% of the findings," Aris Kabul, secretary of the auction committee had told Reuters.

How do you expect people to decide in five days to put $16m on the table?
Luc Heymans, treasure hunter

Others items include delicate jewel-studded gold jewellery, crystal ware and swords with Arabic inscriptions.

The amount raised was to have been split equally between the government and the treasure hunters who retrieved the goods from the sunken ship.

"The cost of the removal of the goods from the ancient shipwreck was $10m," said Mr Sudirman, Indonesia's Director General of Maritime, Coastal Areas and Small Islands.

"Indonesia doesn't have the resources to be able to remove these sorts of underwater treasures by ourselves."

Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans, who was involved in the salvage operation and was to receive some of the revenue from the sale, said he was not surprised the auction failed.

'Hefty deposit'

"The problem is the regulations. I didn't really expect people to come and deposit $16m," he told the AFP news agency.

"Also the timing, the announcement was only five days before the auction. How do you expect people to decide in five days to put $16m on the table? It's a lot of money."

The BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta says $16m was a hefty price for the organisers to ask for, but they had only wanted serious buyers to attend the sale.

Maritime Affairs Ministry official Ansori Zawawi told AFP the second attempt would take place under new conditions - it was not certain whether the deposit system would remain in place.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Wreck yields Ming treasure trove
04 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Uncovering Namibia's sunken treasure
26 Sep 08 |  Africa
'Mighty' HMS Victory wreck found
02 Feb 09 |  Guernsey
Spain seizes ship in treasure row
13 Jul 07 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific