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5 May 2010

Indonesia to sell treasures found in shipwreck

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An auction of treasures including gold, rubies and porcelain found in a 10th-century shipwreck off Indonesia will go ahead Wednesday although no bidders have paid the 16-million-dollar deposit, AFP reported, quoting officials.

The Indonesian government is hoping to sell the haul of rare riches salvaged in 2004 from an unidentified wreck off Cirebon, West Java, in one lot for a minimum of 80 million dollars.

Expressions of interest have come from collectors and investors around Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, but none had paid the hefty deposit by Monday's deadline, officials said.

"We'll open the auction on schedule at 2:00 pm (0700 GMT). Although no buyers have registered, the auction must be opened as this is part of the procedure," Maritime Affairs Ministry official Ansori Zawawi told AFP.

Some 271,000 pieces are on sale including rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Iranian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to the late 10th century.

The Indonesian state will take 50 percent of the proceeds and the remainder will be shared among the salvagers, including Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans' Cosmix Underwater Research Ltd.

Officials said the deposit requirement, the minimum bid or the lack of notice to potential buyers could be reasons that no parties had confirmed their participation.


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