Indonesian shipwreck auction fails for lack of bidders

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A high-profile auction of rare treasures from an Indonesian shipwreck was expected to go for at least $80 million, but in the end there were no bidders. While there was interest expressed by 12 parties from around thw world, it seems that the high deposit required (US$16 million) in order to bid and the short wait time was one of the reasons no one came forward to bid. The 270,000 items were recovered by a private company with a 50-50 sharing agreement with the Indonesian government. The government is now looking into setting up a second auction, while at the same time local archaeologists and royalty are expressing disapproval over the sale of such a tremendous hoard. Given such a high-profile failure, it would be interesting to see how this auction (and later developments) will affect salvage work in this region. Most countries don’t have the resources to conduct their own underwater archaeology or salvage operations and thus have to outsource the work to private companies; but if the salvage can’t even be sold, is there any profit for such work in the first place? Or is this a case of bad logistics and management on the part of the auction organisation?

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