Early the next day, a piece of news was circulating amongst the other treasure hunters staying in the hotel:
"The Vendetta Storage Company found some mahogany furniture inside the storage units. The company was surprised and contacted a Chinese rosewood expert to appraise the authenticity and value of the furniture."
"Whats even more shocking is that the rosewood expert has confirmed the authenticity of the mahogany furniture and gave it a fairly high value. The storage company will hence withdraw those units from todays auction."
Li Du heard this while he was having his continental breakfast. He called up the storage company angrily. "Were calling to protest against the withdrawal of the units put up for auction!"
Storage companies had the right to withdraw units put up for auction because some tenants would pay their balances on the last day possible. Such units would, therefore, need to be withdrawn.
However, the storage company was bewildered by the call. They had never intended to withdraw any unit from the auction. "Hello sir, we will not withdraw any unit from the auction"
"You cant do that," said a disgruntled Li Du. "We came to Holbrook because there were many units put up for auction. If youre withdrawing seven units, that will defeat our purpose of coming here in the first place!"
An agitated Hans urged the treasure hunters residing in the same hotel, "Everyone, lets call the storage company to protest. We cant let them do this!"
The treasure hunters followed suit by taking out their phones and calling the storage company's hotline, which became congested in no time.
In the hotel next door, the Ricks, Frank, and York all came down for breakfast at the same time before heading out to attend the auction.
When they entered the hotel restaurant, they saw a middle-aged Chinese man and a white man having a meal together.
Rick did not know who the Chinese man was but he knew the white man. He was Vendetta Storages Operations Manager.
The Chinese man was almost finished with his meal. There was tons of food served on the table; there was even a bottle of good quality Mexican tequila.
After finishing the last piece of toast, the middle-aged Chinese man got up and said, "Mr. Powell, it was nice to meet you. A pleasure talking to you. Goodbye."
Mr. Powell smiled cheerfully and said, "Im happy to meet you too. Thank you, Mr. Liu, you have a lot of knowledge in this area."
Mr. Liu laughed, "Oh, no, no, you think too highly of me. I just told you what I know about our Chinese architecture and the beauty of Chinese furniture. Im just glad that I could be of help."
Both men waved goodbye and the middle-aged man left the restaurant.
Rick stared at Mr. Lius back for a while. He then exchanged a glance with his son and whispered, "Go, follow him and see whats going on."
As Lil Rick left, Rick walked up to Mr. Powell and laughed, "Hey Powell, my old friend. Its a coincidence seeing you here. What are you up to?"
Powell wiped his mouth with a napkin and replied, "Breakfast. Someone treated me to a nice breakfast. The foods not bad."
Frank came over as well. "Mr. Powell?" he asked. "Nice to meet you. Let me introduce myself: my name is Frank Boll, a professional treasure hunter."
Powell shook hands with him, giving him a few casual compliments before his phone started ringing. "What?" Powell frowned. "Who spread that news? Okay, let me get back first and well see how to deal with it."
After hanging up the phone, he said to Frank and Rick, "My apologies, somethings come up at the company. I need to hurry back. Nice meeting both of you, lets talk some other time. See you around."
"See you around," Rick smiled politely and nodded.
Powell left in a hurry. Frank looked to Rick and asked, "What happened?"
Rick blinked and said, "Mr. Boll, do you know why so many treasure hunters came here to attend this auction?"
Frank was a veteran treasure hunter: besides wanting to deal with Li Du, he had also come here to attend the auction put on by Vendetta Storage. Therefore, when Rick threw him that question, he immediately replied, "Because there might be some mahogany furniture in the storage units?"
Rick nodded. "Yes, theres some mahogany furniture. But did you manage to get further information about it? Theres a problem with the mahogany furniture!"
Frank asked cautiously, "Whats wrong with it? I only have some general information. Do you have details?"
"Yes. I contacted the companys storage unit supervisor and got hold of some pictures. Frank," said a slightly smug Rick, "everyone has their territory, and Arizona is my turf."
Frank knew that Rick was flaunting his abilities. He sneered, "And?"
"And I handed the photos to a mahogany furniture collector who thought that the all the furniture were imitations."
Almost every citizen in the United States was a collector of something. Furniture collection was one of the many types of collection, and mahogany furniture was an important branch.
Over ten million historical Chinese artifacts were scattered around the world in places like Europe, America, Japan, Southeast Asia, and so on. Ancient Chinese mahogany furniture could be seen in many historical museums in western countries.
Museums in America and England owned more red sandalwood furniture collections of the Chinese Ming and Qing Dynasties than the Palace Museum in China, which still owned an impressive 10,000 pieces of ancient furniture.
For example, the scented rosewood throne of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty was showcased in the National Museum of Denmark. A Danish collector had successfully bid for it in Sothebys auction house. Ultimately, the historic relic was donated to the museum.
Unlike other national treasures, the bulk of mahogany furniture that had gone to the West had not been stolen, but sold. Emperor Wanlis scented rosewood throne was one such instance.
There was also a legend that a lot of caves had been used for storing treasures in the western parts of America 100 years ago. It was said that there were tens of thousands of pieces of ancient Chinese furniture stored in caves with cool temperature so they would last for their future generations.
Whether it was the museum, or the caves in the United States, their collection would be the famous ancient mahogany furniture.
Therefore, in regards to mahogany furniture collecting, China was not in a position to ask for such artifacts to be returned. The dispersion of mahogany furniture had resulted in its popularity growth and brought about an increase of mahogany furniture collectors.
Professional mahogany furniture collectors had very deep knowledge on the subject, and were able to tell genuine ones from the imitated counterparts. Rick had contacted a professional to help him appraise the authenticity of the mahogany furniture in the unit up for auction.
He had originally concluded that the pieces of furniture were all knockoffs. But after hearing the Chinese man mention "beautiful Chinese furniture" to Mr. Powell, he began to waver in his decision.
He was also unsure because the collector had told him that he could not give an absolute conclusion just by looking at the pictures. In addition, as the collector was an amateur, the conclusions hed made were not authoritative.