Experts on the German version of Antiques Roadshow has been slammed for convincing a mum and daughter to sell a unique papal crucifix said to contain splinters from Jesus’ cross for just 37,095 GBP.
Mother Cosima, who works a nurse, and her daughter Stephanie, both hailing from the town of Ruelzheim in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, wowed experts of the TV programme ‘Bares fur Rares’, which is the German version of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, by taking a diamond-studded cross from their bag to let the programme’s experts value it.
The cross turned out to be a 300-year-old papal pectoral cross – a cross worn on one’s chest – studded with 40-carat diamonds.
To top it off, the show’s experts found that the cross contained three splinters said to be from the True Cross which Jesus Christ was crucified on, according to reports.
Expert Dr Heide Rezepa-Zabel said the discovery was “amazing” and found that the materials used to make the cross alone were estimated to be worth 17,000 EUR (15,015 GBP).
She estimated the value of the pectoral cross to be between 60,000 and 80,000 EUR (52,995 and 70,659 GBP).
In the ensuing bidding battle, the papal cross was however sold for just 42,000 EUR (37,095 GBP) to trader Susanne Steiger, although it was still the most expensive item in the show’s history.
Steiger said: “I do not know what to say, it’s almost like finding a needle in a haystack. I found it here tonight. I’m so happy.”
She added that she now wants to loan it to a museum, adding: “So many people have come to me who would like to see the cross, so I would like to make it available to the public”
Stephanie and her mother Cosima where happy as well even though the item was sold for a price below the highest estimate, as it will allow Stephanie to finish her studies and to have some cash for the future.
According to local media, there was a wave of online complaints blasting the show for not sending the mother and daughter to a proper auction house where they might have received significantly more money for the pectoral cross.
Netizen ‘Christo Loco Knell’ wrote: “In the big auction houses in the United States they would have easily got 100,000 or more for it.”
Netizen ‘Cuth Ana’ added: “The two ladies allowed others to take advantage of them.”
Lawyer Friedemann Ungerer even went further with his criticism and said the sale might even be illegal citing a paragraph in the German criminal code which defines immoral business and usury.
He said: “In particular, a legal transaction is void by which a person, by exploiting the predicament, inexperience, lack of sound judgement or considerable weakness of will of another, causes himself or a third party, in exchange for an act of performance, to be promised or granted pecuniary advantages which are clearly disproportionate to the performance.”
Ungerer said the law paragraph could be applicable here given the inexperience of Cosima and Stephanie.
It is unclear if the mother and daughter will now contest the sale.