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October 1, 2004

Miller Investigates "Spectacular Estate Auction" Set for Saturday in Souix City--then Company Cancels Auction

The Iowa Attorney General's Office issued a consumer protection subpoena late Thursday to a Virginia company advertising a "Spectacular Estate Auction" Saturday in Sioux City -- and the company canceled the auction early today.

Advertising said the auction was to feature "exclusive items from a multi-million dollar private estate due to divorce" - including works by Rembrandt, Matisse, Dali, Chagall, and Cezanne. [See below for copy of flyer and cover letter.]

"We faxed the auction company a subpoena late yesterday indicating we have reason to believe that certain representations contained in the advertisement may be deceptive," said Attorney General Tom Miller. "This morning, F.F. Auctions canceled the Sioux City auction."

The auction was scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Council Oak Center at Riverside Park.

The subpoena was issued to Fidelity First Financial, LLC, of Dulles, Virginia, doing business as F.F. Auctions in the case of the Sioux City auction. The subpoena questioned representations made in advertising for the auction, including:

  • That the items come from the estate of "an internationally renowned Art and Antique Dealer," "due to divorce."
  • That the auction will feature works actually created by artists such as Dali, Chagall, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, and others.
  • That the event is a "one time event."
  • That the auction will be "the first offering of this exceptional collection."

The Attorney General's Office believes the auction company contracts to hold auctions at local sites not otherwise related to F.F. Auctions.

The consumer protection investigation subpoena remains in effect. It requires the company to produce documents within ten days of receiving the subpoena, including identities of all persons involved in organizing and carrying out the auction, the identity of the person the ad calls "an internationally renowned Art and Antique Dealer" whose estate is being auctioned, all other locations in which the Sioux City items have been offered for sale by the company at prior auctions, and "all support in your records for the claims made regarding the authenticity of the creators of the fine art" referenced in the advertisement.

Miller said his office learned about the auction this week from the South Dakota Attorney General's Office. Yesterday, an auction was canceled that had been set for Sunday in Sioux Falls, SD.


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