France to Auction Rolex Watches Seized as Contraband
France is auctioning off a trove of seized luxury goods, including high-end handbags and a pair of Rolex watches that could raise at least €700,000 ($691,460).
The items, seized by French customs officials as contraband, are to be auctioned Friday in Paris and include a white gold Rolex Sky-Dweller estimated to fetch between €15,000 and €25,000, according to the auction website.
That’s well below current market prices for the Rolex reference, which average about €40,000, according to WatchCharts, which aggregates online prices for pre-owned watches.
The auction also features a Rolex GMT Master II with a black and blue bezel, commonly known as the Batman model. The auction estimate for the watch, which enables the wearer to track different time zones, is €4,000 to €6,000, which is significantly below average resale market prices.
Auctions can generate much higher prices on the day of the sale, however, mainly when there is serious bidder interest.
“The State won’t sell cheaply these prized assets,” said Alain Caumeil, who’s overseeing the sale for the French finance ministry. More than 3,000 people have already signed up to take part in the auction online, with 700 planning to attend in person, raising confidence that some items will likely fetch higher prices than estimated, he said.
Over 350 lots will be offered by French auction house Drouot including cars, sneakers, platinum bars, and a Hermes’ Birkin bag size 40 in Clemence Taurillon leather with white stitching, silver plated metal fasteners and clasp, with a starting price of €4,500. This version in a boutique in Paris currently costs €9,750, a representative for the luxury brand said.
While Hermes bags can also fetch higher prices on the secondhand market amid limited production capacity, the value of a Birkin on the resale market tends to be higher if the bag is in perfect condition and 25 centimetres in size rather than 40, according to Ines Ennaji Chaibi, global business manager at the resale platform Monogram Paris.
A white quilted caviar calfskin Chanel flap bag from around 2011 is available for at least €2,000. The retail price for a similar bag is currently €9,700 in France.
“The goal of this sale aims to show that if anybody breaks the law, the sanctions can be severe,” Caumeil said.