It requires subtlety and knowledge to see the differences between these antiques and the fakes. Tuoi Tre
The price of an antique item can be hefty and the huge sum dazzles many collectors and sellers in Vietnam to the extent that they are willing to use any possible tricks to appropriate the asset.
Sometimes, an antique collector wants to create more value for his item by circulating rumors to make it associated with a historical figure or event to entice buyers.
A woman named Nguyen Thi M. in Nha Trang City, which is the capital of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, fell victim to an ‘antique plot’ set up by a group of people. Initially, M. was arranged to see a person named T. buy an antique item and sell it soon later, also in her presence, for a profit many times the sum that person had spent purchasing it. After several times of seeing lucrative opportunities come to T., M. was asked to join her in trading antiques for a profit. M. immediately agreed to the suggestion since an antique item may generate a profit worth tens of millions of dong. (VND10 million = US$444). After earning a profit for a few times by contributing her share to buy antiques with T., M. was offered bigger deals. M. was told that the items she had bought and kept in her house were worth billions of dong but they can actually fetch one- or two-tenths of the amount. (VND1 billion = $44,500). The profit M. made before was just like a ‘bait’ and all the sellers and buyers of her antiques were the henchmen of T. and her group.
Antique collector N.V.B. in Ho Chi Minh City is another victim. One day, he received an email from a woman in Hanoi, asking him to buy an antique item dating back to the Nguyen dynasty hundreds of years ago. The item was offered for just VND70 million ($3,100) while it should be over VND100 million in the market. Asking for more pictures of the antique, B. felt he had seen it somewhere.
“After watching the images carefully, I told myself that I had seen this item before,” he said. “Finally, I remember that it is my stuff and I lent it to a friend to organize an antique exhibition in Hue City.”
Antique collector Nguyen Huu Hoang from Hue was once in a similar situation. It turned out that a cheater took pictures of certain antique items displayed in exhibitions and offered them for sale to antique collectors.
Even a film director named H.T.C. in Ho Chi Minh City who is well known as an antique connoisseur was also cheated by a trickster.
In the middle of the 1990s, C. bought a painting by late famous painter Duong Bich Lien and sold it to a collector named Q. in Singapore. Years later, rumor had it that the painting sold to C. was a fake. Q. brought it out for verification and realized that the painting was indeed a counterfeit. Q. kept his verification a secret and returned to Vietnam to find out further facts. It turned out that C. bought the painting from a woman who is the figure in it. She was a well known model before and was given the painting by Lien when he was alive more than a hundred years ago. The family of the model kept the painting as a memento for decades. The painting was only sold after the model passed away. When the painting was hung in the house of the figure, a painter who is a friend of her family came and complimented it many times. He asked to borrow the painting for a while to make a copy of it to hang in his house. Then the friend returned a fake and kept the original. Q., who bought the fake painting was finally able to purchase the genuine one during his trip in Vietnam.
A painting or an image can be duplicated within a day in a shop like this. Photo: Tuoi Tre