Most Hawaiian artifacts left unsold at Paris auction - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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Most Hawaiian artifacts left unsold at Paris auction

(Image: Aguttes) (Image: Aguttes)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Only 10% of the Hawaiian artifacts were sold at the Aguttes auction house in Paris over a three day sale which ended Friday. That's according to buyer, Matthew Magers, who was at all three days of the auction.

He called it an "embarrassing situation."

He said the spear from Captain Cook's expedition sold for $60,000. He estimates that the auction made only $200,000 when it said the value of the 1,100 18th century items was worth up to $2,000,000.  

The owner of the items, Maui collector, Rainer Werner "Jerry" Bock, responded in a text he's not sure what he's going to do with the rest of his collection which was billed as the "world's largest private collection of Hawaiian art."

 "I'm open for constructive suggestions as long as I'm not vilified," said Bock. 

On Thursday, OHA's board objected to the sale of Hawaiian artifacts at a Paris auction house.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of directors unanimously passed a resolution asking the Aguttes auction to stop the sale.

They also want to have a discussion with the auction and Mr. Bock, whose business is Splendors of the World.

OHA's CEO said the resolution was passed after the agency looked at (and ruled out) potential legal remedies.

"We don't want to get into any legal matters, but I think there was an outcry from our community to do something," said OHA CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe.

OHA also looked at ways of finding a foundation that could purchase the items and then donate it.

"Just to be fair and honest, we don't have in our current budget to allow for the acquisition so even if we decided to select an artifact, it would still have to go through a vigorous review," said OHA Board Chairwoman Colette Machado.

The Aguttes auction said in an email that the sale has been a "success" so far, but insiders say there's been low interest from buyers. Bock acknowledged that the sale has not been good.

Word of the sale sparked a protest last week by Native Hawaiians who were vacationing in Paris.

While a resolution has no legal teeth, Crabbe hopes it sparks dialogue about the cultural importance of these items -- many of which were given as gifts by Hawaii's monarchs and chiefs.

"The value of these artifacts, we as Native Hawaiians and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are advocating for a greater understanding of the curators or stewardship of these matters," said Crabbe.

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