- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 1, 2005

If you’re in the market for an original Rembrandt, you could travel to New York City later this month and tender offers at the Sotheby’s or Christie’s auction houses.

Or you could mosey over to Towson, Md., today and place a bid at the Sheraton Baltimore North.

In what is advertised as a police auction of seized and confiscated goods, art collectors will bid against bargain shoppers for a Rembrandt, a Picasso and a Warhol among other items, such as rings, furs and autographed baseballs. Cash and all major credit cards will be accepted.

But don’t expect to “steal” a masterpiece.

“If you think you’re going to walk out of there with a Rembrandt for $100, you’re [mistaken],” says Ana Matus, administrative manager for Atlantis Auctions Inc., the Gaithersburg-based company behind today’s sell-off at the Towson Sheraton.

Actually, most of the auction’s items come from consignors, Miss Matus says. The remainder is property seized by various police departments, estate liquidators, federal asset recovery services, unredeemed pledges and repossessions.

All the artwork, jewelry, sports memorabilia and other entries on the auction block are the real thing — and armed security guards will be on hand to ensure they remain on the block until sold, she says.

“We absolutely stand behind the authenticity of our items,” Miss Matus says. “We have a wide range — porcelain, art, antiques, Persian rugs — and we guarantee all items.”

Among the goods available today:

• Sketches, drawings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Andy Warhol.

• Sports-related items signed by Muhammad Ali, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

• 20-carat diamond tennis bracelets, Santini sculptures and Cartier watches.

• Autographed baseballs from Major League Baseball’s “500 home run club.”

And, of course, the Rembrandt. Miss Matus didn’t have any details about artwork and wouldn’t speculate how much it would sell for.

About four years ago, a 17th-century oil painting by the Dutch master, “Portrait of a Lady,” fetched $28.7 million at a Christie’s auction in London.

Miss Matus says Atlantis has held auctions around the country for the past five years. Admission is free for today’s event, which begins at noon with a preview. Bidding starts at 1 p.m.

“We expect a couple hundred people. Hopefully we’ll have a lot,” she says. “There’s something there for everybody.”

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