Exceptional sale by Customs 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). The reason I am telling you about it is because this sale will offer precious metals, jewellery, watches but also unmounted stones that will be of interest to professionals in the sector and to traders. So, if you are not in Paris, consider registering online to participate. Please note that professionals must provide a Kbis of less than 12 months to be able to bid at this exceptional sale.

Lots 24 to 45 are the result of seizures by Paris and Aulnay-sous-Bois customs agents in gold trading and jewellery repair establishments. But also from controls carried out in Parisian railway stations. The objects were seized (respectively lots 24, 27 and 54) because the absence of legal hallmarks on the goods, and/or the absence of their registration in the police book was noted. Some of the lots also come from AGRASC – the Agency for the Management and Recovery of Seized and Confiscated Assets – which is involved in the confiscation of goods related to criminal cases. It is an administration under the main supervision of the Ministry of Justice. Photos: Customs

If this sale is special, it is because it is the first time that the Customs and the Domaines have joined forces to organise a joint sale, where the goods presented are all the result of observations made by the different customs services. This is a way of promoting the work of the agents and showing everyone the plurality of the missions of these two administrations, which are necessary for the proper functioning of the State. In the minds of the French, Customs and 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 Domains – also known as the DGFiP or Direction Générale des Finances Publiques – are involved in a large number of missions that are not at all well known to the general public. Thus, the Customs Department is mainly involved in issues related to the collection of duties and taxes due on the entry of goods into the country, the control of indirect taxes, border control, the fight against fraud and illegal trafficking, the policing of goods, and the fight against illegal immigration. In practice, they are involved in determining the tax base, organising the land register and land registration, controlling and evaluating the State’s accounts, managing public property (castles, buildings, land, etc.), and also drawing up the rules for managing public debt and organising the management of the Treasury. As you can see, the missions are varied and we could talk about them for hours!

The Cross-Channel Surveillance Brigade checked two travellers leaving for the UK with 14 platinum ingots of 1kg each (estimated to date 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 rights on these materials, the ingots have been seized and the sale will regularise this debt.

The sale will take place from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm at Bercy (Ministry of Economy) and the exhibition of the objects will take place the same day from 10 am. But the catalogue is available online at drouot.com where you can discover the 350 lots ranging from trucks to luxury cars to platinum ingots to 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 banditry networks. Imagine, for example, that in 2021, customs officers removed more than 9 million counterfeit items from the market, i.e. a 62% increase compared to 2020.

Lots 69 to 81 concern rough diamonds seized by Paris Airport Customs. In all, the catalogue offers 655.82 carats of rough diamonds (almost 2,000 stones) that arrived on the territory without official documents of origin and extraction conditions. At a time when we are only talking about origins 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, which are therefore illegally taken out of their country but which will inevitably re-enter the flow of stones that could one day be mounted on jewellery. Please note, moreover, that these lots are not exclusively reserved for professionals. Photos: Customs

There is no doubt that watch enthusiasts will be delighted with this sale, which will also see the dispersal of pieces signed by prestigious companies: Rolex, Cartier, Tissot, Breitling and TAG Heuer. Although most of the seizures were made near the Swiss border, some were the result of criminal confiscations. The vast majority of the jewellery is made entirely of gold, sometimes with diamonds and enamel. There were many imported pieces, the majority of which had passed through the Bobigny Judicial Court. However, lot 293 remains outstanding because it is a piece signed by the artist Arman that was seized by the Île-de-France Customs. The fate of jewellery is not always impenetrable but sometimes chaotic. And some, nevertheless, are destined to have more eventful lives than others…

Lot 293 is a brooch signed by Arman “Colère de Violons” in yellow and white gold. Estimate between 2000 and 2500 euros. 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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