Bonhams Cancels Controversial Sale of Rhino Horn Items

Friday 23rd November 2018 - Della Bentham

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Bonhams Cancels Controversial Sale of Rhino Horn Items

An auction which was due to take place in Hong Kong on November 27th has been cancelled due to mounting pressure from environmental groups.

A Bonhams sale which was due to take place on the 27th November entitled "Exceptional Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings from the Angela Chua Collection," has been cancelled due to increasing pressure from environmental groups.

 

A collection of environmental groups, which include WildAid created an online petition to prevent the sale from going ahead. The petition described the auction as ‘unethical, claiming that it was ‘quite likely illegal’ and probably contained items made of horns from ‘recently poached rhinos’.  With more than 10,000 signatures on the petition at the time Bonhams decided to cancel the sale, it was clear that the auction was unpopular, to say the least.

 

It is therefore clear to see why the global auction brand decided to remove the sale from their upcoming catalogues.

 

Bonhams global CEO Matthew Girling said: "(We recognize) there are widely held concerns about this issue and have decided that the sale of the rhinoceros carving scheduled to take place in Hong Kong on 27 November will now not take place."

 

Taking to Twitter, Matthew Girling, who was the named recipient of the petition issued a statement which reads:

 

“Bonhams fully supports international efforts to protect the rhinoceros. All rhinoceros carvings that have been offered at Bonhams have been antique, with a known provenance and carried CITES licences. Bonhams stands behind the professionalism and expertise of its specialists.”

 

“We do however, recognise there are widely held concerns about this issue and have decided that the sale of the rhinoceros carvings scheduled to take place in Hong Kong on 27 November will not offer artefacts made entirely or partly from rhinoceros horn in its salerooms.”

 

A senior specialist for wildlife programs and policy at Humane Society International, Iris Ho, was pleased with Bonhams decision, she told CNN via email.

 

"We applaud Bonhams for cancelling the November 27 auction of rhino carvings and warmly welcome its pledge of not offering any rhino horn artefacts in the future,"

 

"The price to do the right thing -- choosing saving rhinos over profiting from rhino horn sales -- is priceless. The responsibility of ensuring the survival of the remaining wild rhinos, less than 30,000 of them, rests upon all of us."

 

A two-day auction set to take place at Sotheby’s Hong Kong next week, features rhino horn items. Will Sotheby’s follow the lead of its biggest competitors Bonhams & Christie’s and remove the items from their catalogue?

 

Environmental issues have been at the forefront of recent debates, with many believing that items containing ivory and rhino horn among other by-products of poaching should be banned completely in an effort to stop poaching and save the wild animals that die every year. It’s an issue that has proved divisive, with some feeling that antique items should be exempt. The difficulty is that creating exemptions for antiques creates loopholes for the poachers to exploit.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/bonhams‑rhino‑auction‑intl/index.html