This Chinese Auction Site Is Selling Luxury Items Previously Owned by Criminals

One man's repossessed Rolex is another man's treasure

Why buy a Rolex full-price when you can bid on a used criminal's?
Why buy a Rolex full-price when you can bid on a used criminal's?
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

What if we told you you could finally attain that long coveted Rolex for a fraction of its usual price, the caveat being that it once belonged to a convicted criminal? For those who have no qualms about the origins of their luxury wares or are simply tired of perusing the same resell sites to little avail, the judicial auction site Sifa Paimai (from the massive Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba) offers a new avenue by which to shop discounted Cartier timepieces, Hermès handbags, Range Rover SUVs and even Chinese properties. 

Launched in 2012, the site allows shoppers to bid on items obtained from people who have broken the law, the most common offenses being smuggling and filing for bankruptcy. Auctions are typically organized by the court, police stations or customs, and items are usually authenticated, although the site holds no legal responsibility if they turn out to be fake.

While items up for auction are as random as cases of wine or 132 tons of rice, prospective bidders have the option to shop exclusively within the luxury sector, where you’ll come across everything from a Rolls Royce Ghost to Chrome Hearts sunglasses.

A selection of Rolex watches currently up for auction.
Sifa Paimai

Yet the real draw and thrill of the site (besides the lurid aspect of buying something from a criminal) are the near-unbelievable prices that rare and seemingly priceless pieces go for. As WWD reported, a white crocodile Himalayan Birkin from Hermès, dubbed the most expensive handbag ever, sold on the site for 413,000 renminbi, or $63,270 last November. Certainly still a steep price, it pales in comparison to its sale of $139,444 at Sotheby’s in 2019, and $379,271 at Christie’s in 2018.

If handbags aren’t your thing, this Omega Constellation Chronometer Automatic is still in the bidding stages with only five bids, the most recent one 4860 renminbi or about $752. For reference, the same watch sold for $7,100 on Touch of Modern, also in pre-owned condition.

So if you feel like you’ve outgrown eBay and are ready to move onto the big leagues, why not see just how cheap you can score a white collar criminal’s once beloved Rolex or Audemaurs Piguet — it’ll certainly make for the most interesting and storied addition to your collection.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.