Exceptional Customs auction to the Ministry of the Economy (Bercy)

Nov 1, 2022

On 4 November in Paris, at the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, an exceptional Customs auction will be held by the Direction Nationale d’Interventions Domaniales (DNID). I mention this because the auction will feature precious metals, jewellery and watches, as well as unmounted stones of interest to industry professionals and dealers. So if you’re not in Paris, don’t forget to register online to take part. Please note that professionals must provide a business registration certificate (Kbis) less than 12 months old in order to bid at this exceptional sale.

Lots 24 to 45 were seized by customs officers in Paris and Aulnay-sous-Bois from gold traders and jewellery repairers. They were also seized during checks carried out at Paris train stations. The objects were seized (lots 24, 27 and 54 respectively) because the absence of legal hallmarks on the goods and/or the absence of their entry in the police book was noted. Some of the lots also came from AGRASC – the French agency for the management and recovery of seized and confiscated assets – which is involved in the confiscation of assets linked to criminal cases. It is an administration under the main supervision of the Ministry of Justice. Photos: Customs

If this sale is special, it’s because it’s the first time that Customs and the Domaines have joined forces to organise a joint sale, with all the items on offer coming from the various customs departments. It’s a way of showcasing the work of customs officers and demonstrating to everyone the wide range of tasks carried out by these two administrations, which are essential to the smooth running of the state. In the minds of the French, Customs and the Domains are often associated with fraud prevention and seizures, but in reality, Customs – also known as the DGDDI or Direction Générale des Douanes et Droits Indirects – and the Domains – also known as the DGFiP or Direction Générale des Finances Publiques – are involved in a wide range of tasks that are totally unknown to the general public. Customs is mainly involved in collecting duties and taxes on goods entering the country, controlling indirect taxes, border control, combating fraud and illegal trafficking, policing goods and combating illegal immigration. The Estates Department also contributes to the financial solidity of public institutions; in practice, it is involved in determining the tax base, organising the land registry and land registration, controlling and valuing the State’s accounts, managing public property (châteaux, buildings, land, etc.), drawing up public debt management rules and organising the management of the Treasury. As you can see, we have a wide range of missions that we could talk about for hours!

The Brigade de Surveillance TransManche checked two travellers leaving for the UK with 14 platinum ingots weighing 1kg each (currently estimated at 22,000 euros each) in their suitcases. They claimed to be transporting them on behalf of a company based in the Paris region. The ingots came from the Swiss smelter Valcombi. As it has not been possible to recover the duties on these materials, the ingots have been seized and the sale will regularise this debt.

The sale will take place from 10.30am to 5.30pm at Bercy (Ministry of the Economy), and the items will be on display from 10am on the same day. But the catalogue is available online at drouot.com, where you can discover the 350 lots ranging from trucks and luxury cars to platinum ingots, jewellery and designer handbags. You should also bear in mind that some lots are reserved for professionals only. The catalogue is the result of seizures throughout France. They are as much the result of border controls as of the dismantling of criminal networks. Imagine, for example, that in 2021, customs officials removed more than 9 million counterfeit items from the market, a 62% increase on 2020.

Lots 69 to 81 concern rough diamonds seized by Customs at Paris Airport. In all, the catalogue features 655.82 carats of rough diamonds (almost 2,000 stones) that arrived in the country without official documents confirming their provenance or the conditions in which they were mined. At a time when there is so much talk about provenance and certification of the value chain, and even if the number of stones remains ‘small’, the question arises as to how to value these stones for a professional. They have therefore left their country illegally, but will inevitably re-enter the flow of stones that could one day be used in jewellery. Please note that these lots are not exclusively reserved for professionals. Photos: Customs

Watch aficionados are sure to find something to their liking in this sale, which also features pieces signed by prestigious names such as Rolex, Cartier, Tissot, Breitling and TAG Heuer. Most of the jewellery was seized near the Swiss border, but some was confiscated by the criminal justice system. The vast majority of the jewellery seized was made entirely of gold, sometimes with diamonds and enamel. There were many imported pieces, most of which had passed through the Bobigny Judicial Court. Lot 293 stands out, however, as it is a piece signed by the artist Arman that was seized by the Île-de-France customs authorities. The fate of jewellery is not always impenetrable, but sometimes chaotic. And some, nevertheless, are destined for more eventful lives than others…

Lot 293 is a brooch signed by Arman “Colère de Violons” in yellow and white gold. Estimated at between €2,000 and €2,500. Photo : Douanes

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marie chabrol

Hello my name Is Marie. Speaker, consultant & teacher, I write with passion about the world of jewelry.

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