If you've ever bid in an auction then you've probably seen certain items that have the clause "authenticity unknown". While this is a viable warning to the buyer, many times it is not the case.
"Authenticity Unknown" is usually utilized by auctioneers when describing a high dollar item such as a collectible or piece of jewelry etc.
There are many good reputable auction houses that have used the clause when they legitimately don't know the authenticity of an item. Beware though, there are also many that abuse the clause just to get the money. These abusive auction houses take advantage of the "Caveat Emptor" or "Buyer beware Sold as is" and "Buyer preview" clauses in the terms and conditions of their auctions.
Here is how they take advantage; an auctioneer has an item that is a replica, copy or forgery. They describe the item based on research of the genuine "authentic" item and place the item for bid with the clause "Authenticity unknown" full well knowing it is a fake. Buyers are gambling that it is real and they can get it at a bargain price and resell the item elsewhere for a nice profit. Most experienced auctioneers have seen enough fakes and genuine items to tell the difference. In the auction industry we come across both types of items on a regular basis.
When the customer receives the item and realizes it is a fake they have no recourse.If the buyer questions the matter, the dishonest auctioneer hides behind the previous clauses mentioned "Caveat Emptor" and "Buyer preview". We have attended some of our competitor auctions and watched dishonest auctioneers state to a disgruntled buyer, "Sold as is, you didn't preview so you bought it". One in particular was auctioning "Rolex watches, authenticity unknown", he had 3 watches on his online auction and we called him to ask some questions about the watches to see if we could verify them. Because he knew us he was very candid and simply stated, "Don't waste your time, they are fake but if I say Authenticity unknown I get a lot more money".Talk about a scam!! Needless to say we never bought from him again.
Many state auction laws require auctioneers to be honest about the authenticity of items yet some auctioneers simply do not abide and claim they don't know.
At FR Liquidation & Auctions
we have on staff Kent D. Anderson of Maple Leaf Appraisals
for several great reasons, one of which is to verify authenticity of items. With Kent's help and over 20 years experience in this industry we have verified Louis Vuitton purses, Waterford Crystal, Rolex watches, Even a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang and much more. We have also identified the fakes as well and stated such when posting in our auctions.
Our advice; when shopping at auctions you can get some great deals, but make sure to verify the "Authenticity" of items before you think you are going to get the deal of the century on that "Rolex, authenticity unknown". Ask the auction house if they have a certified appraiser on staff to verify or ask if you can have an appraiser look at the item in question. If the auction house won't let you get the item verified prior to bidding then steer clear. Always preview the item as well, many times just good common sense and some google searching can tell you if an item is real or not.
Hope this helps and happy bidding!! For more information Check us out at