Estate Liquidators See A Frenzy Of Speculation

The high price of gold and other precious metals is encouraging a new breed of gold diggers — traveling estate buyers who temporarily set up shop in hotels. They offer to pay cash on the spot for gold, diamonds, old Rolexes and collectibles.

Walking into one such event at a hotel, it all seems very professional: A fancy conference room with a 20-foot conference table, with soothing bossa nova music playing overhead.


Retiree Earl Lawson, 75, looks like he could be a guest at the hotel. Instead he's at the Bellevue Hyatt, cajoled by his wife into trying to sell a few things.

"I brought in some Lladro pieces to be looked at, to see if they were worth anything," he says. They're porcelain figurines made in Spain.

"My wife had collected them over the years, and she said we're downsizing the house and we need to get rid of some of this stuff," Lawson says. "So, we saw the ad in the paper and said we'd bring it over here rather than going on eBay."

But it turns out eBay has decimated the Lladro collectibles market, according to traveling estate buyer Brian Bartholomew.

"Of the things that he had there," he says of Lawson's offerings, "you used to go to Lladro and it'd cost you $1,200 for some of the items. And now they're going for $30 on eBay."


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