Think you've seen it all at auctions? Well, a French courtroom has auctioned off drug dealers' designer goods. Among the items up for grabs were Gucci sneakers, Dior silk pyjamas, Rolex watches, and a flashy white Lamborghini.
On a sunny afternoon, in France's majestic Court of Appeal, a rather unusual auction was underway this week.
The room, usually reserved for serious legal proceedings, was filled with eager bidders and online participants, totalling over 11,000 people, all vying for a chance to own a piece of luxury seized from narcotics cases.
From sneakers and bags by Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Vuitton to Dior silk pyjamas and Rolex watches, the items on display were nothing short of bling.
In an adjacent courtroom, rows of Louboutin shoes glittered, and display cases showcased gleaming jewellery and gold coins.
But the real showstopper was the white Lamborghini parked right in front of the courthouse, with a starting price of 160,000 euros.
This sleek beauty had been confiscated by the Lorient court from an individual who had flaunted his wealth on social media and was later found to be involved in money laundering for drug trafficking.
The bids started flying fast and furious, with a man on the phone and a user on an online platform engaging in a thrilling bidding war. The price dropped to €120,000, and the two buyers continued to outbid each other, driving the price up to €138,000.
In the end, the online surfer emerged victorious, winning the prized Lamborghini.
From a drug lord's garage to the auction block
The auction was organised by the Agency for the Management and Recovery of Seized and Confiscated Assets (Agrasc), in collaboration with the National Directorate of State Interventions (DNID).
Funds collected from the auction will be donated to the interministerial mission for the fight against drugs and addictive behaviour (Mildeca), to support efforts to combat drug trafficking and help drug addicts.
The French Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, who made a brief appearance at the auction, emphasised the symbolic significance of the event.
"It's crucial to show the French people that drug money is being utilised to fight against drugs," he declared.
Gabriel Attal, the Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, echoed this sentiment, reaffirming that there would be no impunity for drug traffickers.
For Claudio, a 67-year-old first-time auction-goer, the event was a unique experience.
"There are luxury things here that are out of the ordinary, and I came to see them and maybe even buy something." With a budget of up to €40,000, he was ready to explore the treasures on offer.
Catherine, a regular attendee of such auctions, was there out of curiosity and appreciation for the exquisite items on display.
"It's always interesting to see what's available, and the venue adds to the charm," said the 69-year-old retiree.
As the gavel fell on the last item in the catalogue, and the auction came to an end, the total gains from the sale were estimated to be nearly €700,000.
This, combined with other sales of boats and vehicles happening in overseas locations, would contribute to the significant amount of €770 million in criminal assets seized by the courts in 2022, as reported by the Chancellery.