Sotheby’s into bat­tle against rhino horn sales after out­cry from wildlife groups

The Sunday Telegraph - - World News - By Han­nah Strange

SOTHEBY’S yes­ter­day be­came the lat­est in­ter­na­tional auc­tion house to end the sale of rhino horn, after Bon­hams an­nounced it would stop its own sales on Fri­day.

The Asian branch of Sotheby’s said it had can­celled an up­com­ing Hong Kong sale of three lots of rhi­noc­eros horn fol­low­ing an out­cry from wildlife or­gani- sa­tions. The an­tique lots had been due to go un­der the ham­mer next week.

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups have warned that any rise in de­mand for an­tique rhino horns, as well as pseudo-an­tique horns, would have knock-on con­se­quences for rhi­nos – most species of which are crit­i­cally en­dan­gered.

“The com­pany will no longer of­fer rhino horn arte­facts in the fu­ture,” Ni­co­las Chow, chair­man of Sotheby’s Asia, con­firmed in a state­ment. “Sotheby’s de­plores any il­le­gal slaugh­ter and trad­ing of en­dan­gered wildlife, and strongly sup­ports conservation ef­forts from the global com­mu­nity.”

The Lon­don-head­quar­tered Chris­tie’s had al­ready pro­hib­ited the sale of rhino horn arte­facts, mean­ing a ban is now in place at the world’s top three in­ter­na­tional auc­tion houses.

Bon­hams had also come un­der pres- sure over a sale to be held in Hong Kong on Tues­day, at which 21 lots of rhino carv­ings had been listed. The to­tal value of the lots was $3.87mil­lion (£3mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional.

An­nounc­ing that the sale had been called off, Matthew Gir­ling, the global CEO of Bon­hams, stressed that its past of­fer­ings had al­ways been an­tiques with a known prove­nance and li­censes from CITES, the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. How­ever, in recog­ni­tion of the “widely held con­cerns about this is­sue”, it would no longer of­fer “arte­facts made en­tirely or partly from rhi­noc­eros horn in its sale­rooms”, Mr Gir­ling said.

Sotheby’s, founded in Bri­tain but with a Chi­nese in­sur­ance gi­ant as its largest stake­holder, also stressed past sales had been of “ver­i­fi­ably his­toric ob­jects with CITES li­cences”.

The world’s top three auc­tion houses – Sotheby’s, Chris­tie’s and Bon­hams – have all now banned the sale of rhino horn

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