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Trading antiques in Vietnam – P2: How to cheat buyers?

Sunday, September 13, 2015, 21:16 GMT+7

So many antique collectors have been cheated since they believed in the seeming naivety of the sellers.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

>> Trading antiques in Vietnam – P1: Tricks to sell fake objects

Those sellers were actually very wicked and sophisticated enough.

They cleverly ‘staged’ certain situations to lead buyers to believe their fake antiques were real and most of the purchasers have fallen prey.

H.T.C., a film director, visited an antique shop on Le Cong Kieu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City in 2000 and was offered an ancient gold statue of the Champa dynasty dating back hundreds of years ago.

Believing in his knowledge of antiques, C. decided to buy it because the item looked genuine.

He sent it for sale at his own antique shop in Hong Kong.

A collector bought it and had its genuineness verified. The result showed that it was just a fake. The collector then returned it to C.

The film director brought the gold statue back to the shop on Le Cong Kieu Street but he lost his prestige in this affair for selling a counterfeit anyway.

Some families in the central city of Hue own many antiques they inherited from previous generations, and they are often kept on altars for worship.

They are the targets of antique dealers but it is not easy to buy them because the items belong to the whole families.

Such items as ceramic dishes and bowls are displayed on altars day after day but family members do not pay much attention to them.

And that is where tricks start to be employed.

Antique collectors told a family member the old item could be duplicated so that the fake would be put on the altar and the original would be sold to them.

How to duplicate an ancient item is no strange thing to antique collectors.

Nguyen Van Tuan, an architect, agreed to share his “most painful story in life” to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as “a lesson of experience” for others to keep away from the tricks of antique dealers.

It was in 2012 when fishermen were reported to have found a crashed ship not very far from shore and fully loaded with antiques, including dishes, bowls, cups, and many other ancient items, in Chau Thuan Bien Hamlet, Binh Chau Commune, Binh Son District, Quang Ngai Province, located in the central region.

It was like a fever during the first days when all local fishermen were said to have discovered antiques.

Antique dealers jumped on the bandwagon and the news was spread to Tuan, a lover of antiques.

Thinking that he could come to buy real ancient pieces, Tuan set off for Quang Ngai.

Setting foot in Chau Thuan Bien, he heard from local residents that most there collected some items and kept them in rice jars, piles of old cloths, or under soil to avoid police seizures.

The law says that all ownerless assets belong to the state and those who discover them will be given a small percentage of their value.

Tuan was shown antiques in a dimly lit room. He brought with him about VND1 billion (US$44,500) and spent all of it on the old pieces with complete confidence that they had been picked from the seabed.

Going back to Ho Chi Minh City, Tuan showed off the ceramic wares to the amazement of his friends. After that, Tuan asked a professional to assess the antiques.

But all of the things were just fake except one jar which was a genuine item, but it was worth just no more than VND10 million ($444).

Buyers who are overseas Vietnamese have fallen into the same trap.

A. was one of the overseas Vietnamese returning to Ho Chi Minh City and managing to fly to Hue to buy an antique item.

A. asked for the way to a house on the outskirts of Hue. A senile woman opened the entrance gate for him to enter. Then she opened her cabinet and took out several ceramic antiques for which she demanded over VND100 million ($4,400).

After checking the items, A. agreed to buy them immediately.

A. asked for help from his friend, an antique connoisseur, and knew that all the items were counterfeit.

An antique dealer added that it is very easy to be cheated when buying antiques if one does not know much about the field.

Antique collector Nguyen Huu Hoang in Hue said, “You can be duped into buying a fake item even when you have checked it carefully before.”

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