Illegal elephant ivory landed famous South Kensington auction house Christie’s in hot water after they were fined more than £3,000 for breaking endangered species trade law yesterday.
An antique ivory tusk mounted on silver was offered at a Christie’s auction on April 28, 2015, it was expected to sell for between £1,200 – £1,800 but instead lumbered the 250-year-old auction house with a £3,250 fine.
A representative for Christie’s pleased guilty at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court yesterday to selling elephant ivory in contravention of Article 8 of Council Regulation, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The unworked tusk was owned by a 63-year-old who has been charged with offering it for sale.
The wildlife officer for Kensington and Chelsea borough, PC Rowena Roberts, said: “Anyone who owns antique ivory should be aware that it cannot be legally sold without an Article 10 certificate which can be obtained via the Animal and Plants Health Agency [APHA].
“The tusk in this case was mounted on silver but was basically a raw, unmodified elephant tusk and therefore should not have been offered for sale without the correct documentation. These laws were established to protect the worlds remaining elephants.”
As well as the fine Christie’s were also ordered to pay £85 costs and £120 in victim surcharge.
A Christie’s spokesperson said: “Christie’s unequivocally condemns the slaughter of elephants for illegal ivory and will not sell modern ivory, or unworked tusks of any age.
“We take the obligations in relation to endangered species very seriously. Our ongoing responsibility is to ensure that illegal ivory cannot be sold at Christie’s, and as part of this we have a robust training programme in place that is regularly reviewed.
“This was an isolated incident and we believe that the honourable response was to accept the charge as made.”
The move comes just a month after Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta burned 100 tonnes of ivory, worth £82m on the black market, to highlight the need for a total ban on ivory.
For more information on the law around selling ivory, see www.cites.org and https://www.gov.uk/cites-controls-import-and-export-of-protected-species