Arbitrade-linked Mandela Hands auctioned
Solid gold casts of Nelson Mandela's hands that were once linked with Arbitrade, were auctioned in New York City last night.
It was estimated the collection of four casts, if sold as a single lot, would fetch between $10 million and $20 million, but there were no bids for the entire set. However, two of the individual casts sold for $2.3 million and $2.25 million respectively.
The sale of the artefacts had also been the subject of a request for a court-ordered safeguard about what happens to the them in the event they did not find a buyer at auction.
The casts were made in South Africa in 2002, and are said to be 99.99 per cent pure gold. Malcolm Duncan, who bought the casts and was a friend of the late president of South Africa, agreed in 2018 to sell them to Arbitrade Inc for $10 million.
Arbitrade, a crypto company, acquired Victoria Hall, on Victoria Street, for its global headquarters the same year. Its officials and executives presented images of the gold hands at an event in the US Senate Building on Capital Hill in July 2018, which marked the 100th anniversary of Mr Mandela's birth.
Arbitrade is no longer involved with the gold hands. Last June it assigned its right to purchase the casts to Sion Trading FZE, a company in the United Arab Emirates that once acted as its gold procurement agent.
According to documents in a court filing first reported by Offshore Alert, Mr Duncan, a South African national, still holds one of the casts and claims to be awaiting a final instalment payment of about $1.4 million for one of the other casts.
A sales agreement states that Mr Duncan, together with Max Barber, owner of Sion, had agreed to put aside a dispute over the ownership of the collection, in order that it could be placed for sale at auction, with a reserve price for the entire collection of $12 million.
However, in order to safeguard what will happen to the casts should they not reach the reserve price, a request for judicial intervention had been filed at the Supreme Court in New York by Mr Duncan.
The collection was included in an auction taking place last night at Jazz at Lincoln Center, in New York, by auction house Guernsey's.
The Royal Gazette contacted Mr Barber to ask if he had anything to say about the alleged payment dispute. Mr Barber said he would be happy to speak later today.