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