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A friend referred me to an older lady who's husband had passed as he had several Randall knives. When the widow called we of course talked about her late husbands guns as well. He has about 250 handguns and 150 long guns. I've heard that most are top shelf arms with many (25-30) with ivory stocks. Unfortunately her husband never cataloged his collection, it's value or how to dispose of them. She contacted a well known and reputable auction house who immediately sent her a contract to sign. The auction folks said they would be there last Tuesday or Wednesday (7/16-17). She spent all last week finding the guns and boxes and laying them out. She even wiped down each one after handling them. The day before they were to arrive the house called to say that they couldn't make it and it would be next week before they would be there.


This is conservatively a $250,000.00 collection and they are charging this little old widow a 17.5% sellers premium! She had no one to negotiate for her and I feel like the house is taking advantage of her. Is it possible she can get out of the contract? Would the house go after this widowed octogenarian? Is a a 17.5% sellers premium reasonable on so many fine guns?
 

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A friend referred me to an older lady who's husband had passed as he had several Randall knives. When the widow called we of course talked about her late husbands guns as well. He has about 250 handguns and 150 long guns. I've heard that most are top shelf arms with many (25-30) with ivory stocks. Unfortunately her husband never cataloged his collection, it's value or how to dispose of them. She contacted a well known and reputable auction house who immediately sent her a contract to sign. The auction folks said they would be there last Tuesday or Wednesday (7/16-17). She spent all last week finding the guns and boxes and laying them out. She even wiped down each one after handling them. The day before they were to arrive the house called to say that they couldn't make it and it would be next week before they would be there.


This is conservatively a $250,000.00 collection and they are charging this little old widow a 17.5% sellers premium! She had no one to negotiate for her and I feel like the house is taking advantage of her. Is it possible she can get out of the contract? Would the house go after this widowed octogenarian? Is a a 17.5% sellers premium reasonable on so many fine guns?
Rick,
I was a project manager for Lucent Technologies. One of our courses was a on how to write and abide a contract to prevent it being broken by the other party. The lawyer that taught the course kept emphasizing that almost all contracts can be broken it's just a matter of finding where the other side did not live up to the terms of the contract. Unfortunately she probably needs either a contract lawyer, or someone familiar with contracts, to review what transpired. I hate to hear of widows being treated this way.
tdennis
 

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I have helped the families of my friends who have died and it's hard work dealing with estates. I did it for free because they were good friends but there is a time you wish you hadn't been asked to help. Between family battles over property and the vultures that swoop in to get something for nothing it becomes really ugly. I pity this woman trying to sell her husband's estate, she will be lucky to get wholesale prices from dealers. I would tell her to set up something on Gun Brokers and sell them herself if she has the mind to do it. Otherwise the vultures will come in and cream the collection and leave the hard to sell stuff.

Tell her good luck.
 

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Is there someone out there who's going to do all the work, fetch the same, or better prices for a smaller %? I wouldn't pay the 17%, but she'll end up with a lot more money versus taking them to the LGS who'll offer her $.50 on the dollar.

I'd guess that 15% to 20% is standard.
 

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I am sorry for her loss and sorry she is having to go through this goat roping to deal with people who want something for nothing. tdennis is probably correct in that she will need a contract lawyer to get out of the auction company contract. Unfortunately that may take a while and cost her a big chunk of the estate.
Selling on GB can be very intimidating to the uninitiated. She needs a friend who is familiar with the dealings there. I had an old friend who died after a long illness. His wife contacted an acquaintance about selling his guns. He bought what he wanted and the rest were taken to a local gun store and sold on consignment. She got hosed big time and there were more than a few guns we know he had that were never seen for sale.

"Swooping vultures" is an appropriate term. My Dad always said..."You can tell a family's character by how they handle an estate." That applies to so-called friends as well.

I wish her the very best!
 

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I haven't sold any guns in ages but about 1986 I sold a few nice ones to pay my divorce lawyer through a high end gun shop where I lived in California. They charged me 10%, got top prices, sold fast and we both were happy.
 

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I am not a lawyer but I believe for a contract to be binding , she would have to give consideration ( money) if she hasn't paid anything to them, I don't believe the contract has been executed.

Just my thoughts.

Craig
 

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I know for a fact the auction houses will negotiate a lower seller's premium for high quality guns, especially a large number of them. I personally know of them not even charging a premium for high quality pieces. They do have a lot of overhead, but they are getting up to 20% or more from the buyers. That gives them room to negotiate with the sellers. The only auction house I know of not charging a buyers premium is A & S in Waco, Texas. Several top sellers on GB are members here. The fees I see them charge, if I remember correctly is 13%. I know several of the GB sellers personally. They are good honest business men. Too bad she didn't look for help before signing the contract. If I were her, I would tell them I changed my mind since they didn't come at the agreed upon time. She would find out right quick where she stands with them.
 

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Is there an additional fee for selling above the 17.5%? If not, then it is really no different than a LGS' commission would be for selling the guns. If it is in addition to a commission, then I would see a lawyer.
 

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Awful, everyone of us is going to go through this sometime- I really need to think about it and put a plan in place. If the company is honest though- and deals with the lady square a 17-18 percent fee might be acceptable

Best of luck to the lady RIP to her husband.
 

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I have sold some nice items through three auction houses. A & S in Waco, Texas, Burley in New Braunfels, Texas, and Morphy. In each case the auction houses got quite a bit more than I would have on my own. The selling price after commission was still better than what I would have received had I sold them personally. I think it would be the same with some of the top tier sellers on GB.
 

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Apparently there is no inventory of the guns done yet by the auction house, she has not assigned anything to the auction house yet, so it's likely just an agreement confirming what the terms would be for any guns sold by the auction house. She should talk to an attorney, and have him or her review the "contract" and advise her. She should probably delay the auction house inventorying the guns until after she's talked with the attorney.

Best regards,
 

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A 17% premium doesn't sound that bad, especially given they plan to transport the guns for her. It's true that we have some reputable Gun Broker sellers; however, she would have a heck of a time shipping 400 guns, and it would likely cost her a small fortune.
 

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too many variables for anybody here to give you an informed answer. The only thing for her to do is consult a lawyer.


  1. What State does the widow live in?
  2. In what State is the auction house located?
  3. What does the contract say about right of withdrawal and disputes? (e.g., venue, arbitration, etc)
  4. Is the widow competent? If she has dementia, the contract might not be valid against her
  5. Has the widow identified any of the guns to the auction house?
and a lot more I am not thinking of at the moment.

Like other posters have pointed out, 17% might not be too high and the auction house might get more at auction than what she is able to get on her own, unless she is willing to find somebody who is willing to do it for free. Like somebody else also observed, it is most likely that the auction house doesn't know exactly what she has so if you want to pay her a visit and set aside stuff you know will sell on GB in a heartbeat without having to pay 17%, do that before they come to visit.

if it turns out that 17% is standard and she backs out only to find out later that it is the way it is, the auction house might not to do business with her a second time around.
 

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I agree with Monsai; she needs to have an attorney look over the contract. I've dealt with many purchase contracts over the years, and the terms written in the agreement are generally locked in stone. If the contract didn't include the date the auction company was to meet with her (and I doubt that it was that specific), then simply postponing the meeting didn't negate the contract.
 

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Don't know but it appears as if the auction house has violated the terms of the contract by not appearing as agreed.

That could be the case if it is stated in the contract that they will appear by a certain date, otherwise it is bad form but not a violation of any contract to not be there on time .
 
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