If Li Du had made such a request when he had first started out, he would have surely been mocked by everyone.
However, now that he had established a reputation for himself, the treasure hunters would not make fun of him. Also, it was a request that everyone was thinking in their hearts too.
After the auctioneer rejected it, more people started making the same request:
"Hey old man, let us in to see. Why would we dare risk it if were just outside?"
"I have the money, but I dont dare spend it unless you let me go in and see."
"Is it all really mahogany? If so, then why are you afraid of letting us in to see?"
The auctioneer blocked the entrance like a statue. He was unfazed by the requests and threats coming from the treasure hunters.
Li Du went up and whispered to him, "Hey man, if you want to make more money, then let everyone in to see. If you dont, nobody will dare make any high offers.Also, youre aware of whats in the subsequent units. Unless you let everyone find out whether its authentic, when more units are revealed, the bids will get lower!"
The auctioneer said without any change in expression, "Sorry, rules are rules."
"Rules are fixed, but humans are flexible," Li Du said as he patted his shoulder. "Trust me, the furniture looks authentic to me. After you let everyone have a proper look, the bids will definitely increase!"
No one would turn down more money. The auctioneer was slightly hesitant now.
Li Du was right about one thing: the auctioneer did know what was in the subsequent units, because as an auctioneer, he would have had a prior examination of the units for sale so that he could discuss with the company the initial bidding prices.
The upcoming units were all full of mahogany furniture. As the auction proceeded, everyones interest in the bidding would fall, because the crowd would guess that they were all replicas.
If the furniture were all authentic, seven units would total up to millions of dollars. No manufacturer would forget that many valuable units. That was what the storage company thought and what the auctioneer thought too. Thus, the initial bids were all set at only a few thousand dollars.
However, the final offer of the first unit had shaken the auctioneer. According to the rules of the trade, his commission was related to the prices that the units were sold at.
With over 60,000 dollars for the first unit, he had earned 6,000 dollars in one go. If the units after could sell for such a price too, he would make a fortune.
While he hoped that the other units would sell for that high, he still didnt dare let others observe the furniture closely. If they decided that they were fakes, he wouldnt earn much from them.
Li Du could tell that the auctioneer was wavering. He gave the final blow: "Let us in to see. Whether they are real or not, I promise to give the initial bid of 50,000 dollars, how about it?"
Finally, the auctioneer caved. He stared at Li Du as he said, "You promise to bid 50,000 dollars as the initial bid?"
Li Du faced the crowd and shouted, "Everyone can be my witness: regardless of the results, if we can go in, Ill bid 50,000 dollars, which would be the base price for this auction!"
The treasure hunters all wanted to go in. Hence, hearing what he said, they immediately backed Li Du up.
"Well be the witness!"
"Go Boss Li!"
"Let us in!"
The auctioneer gave up his position and said, "I can allow you guys to go in to view, but the rule of no touching anything inside still remains. Ill kick out whoever breaks the rule!"
"Okay!" the treasure hunters cheered.
The first rule of storage auctions was that there was no entering the unit, but even more important was the rule of not touching any of the storage. Before payment could be made, the storage had to be in its original state.
However, that was only for the "touching" rule. What was considered "entering" the unit was up to the auctioneer.
The auctioneer took two steps back from his position. That implied that the treasure hunters could now take two steps in. Although they could not freely loiter in the unit, they could now get very close to the outermost furniture.
Li Du was the first one in. His body was almost draped over one of the small bed frames that had prominent wood rings. His eyes were fully focused on examining.
Seeing the auctioneer taking two steps back, Frank, York, Rick, and the others jolted to attention.
They didnt rush forward to view, but immediately called up friends who had knowledge of mahogany or furniture and sought their help via Facetime.
Frank made the call. York mocked Li Du as he said, "That guy acts as if he knows his stuff. Look at himhis eyeballs are almost touching the wood!"
"What do you expect from him?" Frank scoffed, his call still trying to connect. "Do you think these barbarians know any experts?"
Li Du was also laughing in his heart, as he was doing this on purpose. During the last few exchanges in the previous bidding, Rick had backed out. This led Li Du to believe that Rick could still have some doubts about the authenticity of the mahogany furniture.
However, even so, a good part of Rick still believed that they could be real. If not, he wouldnt have gone as high as 60,000 dollars.
Thus, he wanted to give Rick a push to strengthen his belief in the authenticity of the mahogany. Of course, he couldnt do it directly, and had to employ some subtle means to do it.
What kind of subtle means? Li Du used the idea of letting him get close to the mahogany furniture. With that, Rick would surely seek help from experts through Facetime.
Li Du was confident that, purely from appearance, it was impossible to realize that the furniture in the second unit was fake: the appearance was specially made to look exactly like the real thing!
The furniture in the first unit was only similar in terms of structure, and the mahogany appearance was just skin pasted onto the wood. The furniture looked awkward and there were inconsistencies in the lines of the wood, as the wood had been pieced together. An expert could easily see the flaws in it just from looking.
However, the mahogany furniture in the second unit was an extremely close imitation to the real thing. It was hard to tell, and the best way to appraise it would be to cut the wood to see the quality inside.
However, mahogany was a precious material. Who would be willing to cut it to discern its authenticity? Also, the treasure hunters here werent allowed to even touch the furniture, let alone cut it!
Being much closer to the furniture now, the treasure hunters started employing all sorts of methods. Some sent photos to their friends to help them validate, some went up close to examine, while some used Facetime to show their friends live.
Li Du had guessed right. Although everyone was trying to keep their information secret, Li Du could tell from the ramblings from the crowd that no one thought the furniture was fake.
Especially the bed frame that was closest to the entrance, which was made of wood from the kassod tree to imitate red sandalwood. The two types of wood looked almost identical; with some work, they would be indistinguishable!
When the viewing was over, the auctioneer pointed to Li Du and shouted, "The starting bid is 50,000 dollars. If you dont have that much money then back off, but whoever wants to have a go, come forward. Fifty thousand dollars is the offer from the youngest Hundred Thousand Club member"
Before the auctioneer finished, Rick raised his hand up and yelled, "60,000 dollars!"
His tone was firm!
Seeing such, Li Du smirked. The fish had taken the bait.