By Kevin Heath
The first prosecution of an auctioneer in the UK for selling illegal ivory has taken place. The prosecution of Chiswick Auctions resulted in a fine of £3,200. The ivory carving came from an elephant killed during the 1960s and was therefore illegal to sell.
The piece of carved ivory was discovered by Wildlife Crime Unit and Arts and Antiques unit officers during an on-going operation against modern ivory sales in London. The piece was seized during a search of trade stands at the Portobello Market.
The tusk was carved as a train of elephants. During investigations the tusk was tracked back to Chiswick Auctions who sold the carving in 2010 as ‘old ivory’.
For a carved ivory piece to be classed as ‘old ivory’ and legal to sell under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species ( Enforcement) ( CITES) Regulations 1997 the tusk has to be pre-1947. Forensic examination showed that the ivory came from an elephant killed during the 1960’s.
Chiswick Auctions leaded guilty to the offence on October 14th and said that the senior auctioneer who valued the piece had made a mistake in the age of the item.