The following is an email sent today by Adam Schneider, a prominent Star Trek prop collector, to “about 40 of [his] ‘prop’ friends.” It is also being concurrently posted in various Trek and prop collecting forums on the Internet. I thought I would help do the public a service by posting it here as well:
I am sending this to about 40 of my “prop” friends. I will post it at the same time in the various Trek and prop collecting forums. I’ll start with facts and put my opinions at the end.
I have been a prop collector since the 2006 Christie’s Trek auction. Since then I have made many collecting friends, participated in Trek conventions and become involved with the franchise. I have tried to add to the community… by dealing fairly with all, by buying, restoring, and donating Galileo, and by assisting the Smithsonian with restoring the original Starship Enterprise.
This last weekend was the Creation Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. I was deeply disturbed by two events which challenge my perception of Propworx as an organization to do business with.
On Saturday August 8, Creation held a “no minimum bid” auction, and one piece was screen-used. The bidding stalled at $250. However, Propworx CEO Alec Peters continually bid against the winner until it reached $1,000. Alec said he had a “fiduciary obligation” to the seller…. on a “no minimum bid” auction! To say it again – Alec bid up an item because he promised a certain outcome. (By the way, unless Alec was contractually working for the seller, there is no such fiduciary obligation.)
The next day Propworx held their auction. There were about 70 people watching and bidding in person and more on the internet. Alec asked for questions. I asked two, and to the best of my recollection, this was the exchange.
I asked: Is there any reserve on any of the items? Answer: No.
I asked: Are you, or any agent of yours, or your girlfriend sitting in the corner typing on the internet, bidding against buyers on these items? Answer: Propworx makes proxy bids.
The exchange was heard by those 70 people including many prominent collectors. Yes, the Propworx CEO stated in public that they do bid against buyers.
My take: Propworx is making bids against its customers without any disclosure. Propworx is actively raising prices and in the process unjustly enriching themselves. It is like a reserve that increases if collectors are interested! It is inherently unfair to buyers.
I am not a lawyer, but this sure seems like fraud. I have checked the terms and conditions for the auction and none of this is disclosed. In fact, it seems quite clear in person that they are managing their bids versus active client bids (most from the internet) so as to maximize revenue. The cost of Propworx’s bidding is being borne by its customers.
We should ask Propworx to disclose ALL such bidding for its prior auctions.
In all cases where Propworx or its agent is the underbidder, collectors should only be asked to pay the “last good bid”.
Propworx should cease this behavior and if they do not, you as the buyer stop doing business with them.