The so-called monopoly auction was a rather rare sight but it was bound to happen on and off in the industry. The major auction houses called monopoly auctions "vicious" auctions. If one started to develop, the auctioneer had the right to call off the auction.
A monopoly auction was when a group of people who knew each other, and were possibly allied, participated in an auction. When the auction started and one person placed a bid, the others would not bid.
For the auction houses, the auctioneers, and the storage companies, the profit margin was greatest when everyone participated and placed bids in an auction. The more bids, the higher the price and the more they would earn.
The goals of monopoly auctions were undoubtedly contrary to the goals of a normal auction. They affected the development of the market as well as the auction houses' profitability.
For the general auctions such as the ones organized by large auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's, a monopoly situation was unlikely to happen because they invited the participants themselves. The chances of an alliance between these people were very low.
However, it was a different case with storage auctions.
If treasure hunters allied up, they could use the lowest price to win every single unit on auction and they would split their earnings when they sold the goods later on.
Li Du had a question. "Alright, but why didn't the auctioneer stop the auction? Oh, I get it now!"
After he blurted out this question, he realized that he had asked an idiotic question.It was obvious that this auctioneer and the Tucson Brotherhood had some under-the-table deal with each other. They were in it together!
"You get it now," said Hans. "The auctioneer and the Tucson Brotherhood have a close relationship. Although he might not earn much from the final bid prices, I bet they will give him his dueit might even be a very attractive amount."
The second unit was opened for viewing. Li Du now adopted a serious attitude towards this. The last one he had failed to get his hands on. If he missed this one because of the same tactic, this would have been a wasted trip to Tucson.
When the viewing ended, Li Du threw a glance at Hans. Li stood right in front of the crowd and Hans did the same. Both of them and the auctioneer formed a triangle.
The treasure hunters noticed their change in attitude and were puzzled. They wanted to check out the unit again but the entrance had been locked up; they couldn't see anything.
However, even if it were open, they wouldn't see anything unusual about the unit. This unit only contained chests of wooden planks and pieces of wood. And from the color and smell of the wood, they were ordinary poplar wood, which was not worth much.
The auctioneer raised an arm and shouted, "Okay, all of you have finished viewing and now let's start our second auction. The starting price is still 500 dollars, 500 dollars, 500 dollars!"
Hans shouted, "500 dollars, us!"
Princeps touched his toothbrush mustache. A young Mexican man said, "600 dollars!"
Hans continued to bid. "Seven hundred dollars!"
Another treasure hunter placed a bid. "Eight hundred dollars!"
But just as that treasure hunter placed his bid, he suddenly found himself surrounded by the Mexican treasure hunters.
The treasure hunter was angry and roared, "Hey, you're in my way. What do you all want?"
A Mexican went up and talked to him in a low voice, and the treasure hunter walked away with a look of resentment.
Li Du witnessed the whole incident and furrowed his brows. He knew that the auction would not go smoothly.
The Tucson Brotherhood stayed true to their name. They were totally acting like a gangthey must have threatened that treasure hunter.
"One thousand dollars!" The young Mexican man made another bid.
Li Du placed a bid as well, saying, "1,100 dollars."
Whenever Princeps rubbed his mustache, the young Mexican man would follow by placing a bid. With this, the price went up to 2,000 dollars within a short period of time.
By this time, Li started to hesitate. He wasn't sure if Princeps knew what was inside the unit. If Princeps knew about it, then it would be difficult to win the unit from him.
Hans was not worried about that; he blinked at Li Du and gritted his teeth. "Three thousand dollars!"
The price jumped by a thousand dollars. This was a common tactic used by treasure hunters during auctions. The treasure hunters placed bids with huge jumps in prices to eliminate their competition by scaring them off.
However, the downside of using such a tactic was that it revealed their intentions for the unit. It easily triggered the interests of those treasure hunters who originally did not have much confidence with the unit.
Princeps looked hesitant as well. This storage company was in Tucson; to him, all the storage units in Tucson were the property of the Tucson Brotherhood. Tucson was their territory.
When he'd heard that Li Du was here, he was very unhappy about it. He knew about Li Du's achievements and capability. He knew that if that Chinaman came to Tucson, he would earn the money that was supposed to be earned by the Tucson Brotherhood. The only thing that was uncertain was how much Li Du would earn in Tucson.
He had done some research on Li Du's habits and found out that he liked to check out the storage units by making a trip to the storage companies prior to the start of an auction.
Princeps was perplexed by the habit of Li Du. Just like all the other treasure hunters who knew about this habit, he didn't know and could not understand why Li Du did this.
Well, it didn't matter much if he didn't understand Li Du's motives for doing that. More importantly, in Princeps's mind, he wanted to hinder Li Du from making money. He was the one who contacted the security guards of the storage company to prevent him from entering prior to the auction.
Princeps was very sure that this was the first time Li Du had entered the company and seen the units. What did he see? Why is he bent on winning this unit? he thought.
He had been able to reach his current millionaire status (besides using some small tricks and dirty means) because he possessed superior foresight as a treasure hunter.
Princeps had carefully scrutinized the unit earlier during the viewing, but he hadn't noticed anything worthwhile inside.
And so when he ordered one of his fellow treasure hunters to bid, he was very careful. He had to be careful of Li Du and Hans in case both of them were jacking the price and laying a trap for him to jump in!
Now the price had risen to 3,000 dollars and Princeps still hadn't the slightest idea of the unit's value. After hesitating for a while, he shook his head slowly.
When Li Du saw that, he felt relieved. He thought that Princeps was ordering his men to stop bidding for the unit. The situation seemed to imply this as well. After getting his orders, the young Mexican man shook his head and went back into the crowd.
The auctioneer stared at Hans and said, "3,000 dollars, 3,000 dollars, 3,000 dollars, this unit is now 3,000 dollars. Anyone bidding 3,100 dollars, don't let 100 dollars hold you back to earn big money and become a wealthy man!"
Just as the auctioneer said that, the onlooking treasure hunters suddenly moved. More than 20 men from either side of them and suddenly walked in front of Li Du and Hans. They formed a "human wall" to block both of them.
Li Du was caught unawares by this sudden change. In no time, someone shouted, "I bid 3,100 dollars!"
This made him really flustered; he quickly shouted, "I bid"
"Ah d*mmit, the weather's so hot! I can't take it anymore, too hot!"
"Who's pushing me? Don't push me, that's too much. Don't let me see who you are!"
Someone even started singing!
"When I was young, I'd listen to the radio, waiting for my favorite songs..."
These men suddenly created a ruckus. Li Du was baffled and frustrated. He thought, What's happening?