A big art auction scheduled for today in central Iowa has been cancelled after an investigation into it’s offerings that were almost too good to be true. Advance promotion for the sale caught the eye of consumer-protection officials in South Dakota, who contacted Iowa’s attorney general according to spokesman Bob Brammer. South Dakota forwarded a mailing about an auction that claimed it was from the estate of an “internationally-renowned art and antique dealer” selling items because of a person’s divorce including works by artists Chagall, Cezanne, Renoir and Rembrandt. Such a collection caught the eye of the Iowa regulators, who’d dealt with that kind of promises before. He says “this rang a bell” because about five years ago an auction had come to Des Moines and afterward people complained about mis-representation of the quality of the art. Brammer says the consumer affairs office helped some of those buyers get money back after that sale. Iowa’s consumer-protection office has won refunds for regretful buyers by using what’s called the door-to-door-sales act. The Door to Door Sales Act gives purchasers three days to cancel the deal and get their money back if the sale took place “outside the seller’s regular place of business,” and that includes events like a tent sale or auction. An Internet search added information about the company, F-F Auctions, which has run afoul of authorities in other states doing business as Fidelity First Financial of Dulles, Virginia. Similar operations with other names but the same principal people have run into trouble elsewhere and after the A-G’s office indicated it would be looking into the sale, it was canceled. The consumer office questioned claims like the international fame of the dealer, the divorce that supposedly caused a sale of paintings by the world’s most famous artists, other items described as antiques and valuable rugs, and whether the one-time event really offered such a collection. The Sioux Falls auction was canceled, too.
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