Dr. Gregory Baran was full of anticipation on a cool Thursday in December 2021 as he carefully opened the small package delivered by a FedEx driver to his medical practice on the outskirts of Kingston, Ontario.

Baran had bought an 18-carat gold Rolex Pearlmaster watch for nearly $ 27,000 three weeks earlier from 3 Kings Auction, an online business based in Redondo Beach. He planned to surprise his wife Julia with an expensive watch for their upcoming wedding anniversary.

“Rolex is a work of art and I wanted something she could use,” Baran, 59, said in a telephone interview. “It was the least I could do for her after 35 years of patience with me.

However, when he opened the box with the embossed name Rolex, he was immediately struck by disbelief.

Dr. Gregory Baran says he received this sports watch instead of a Rolex for $ 27,000 from Redondo Beach.
(Courtesy of Dr. Gregory Baran)

Cheap sports watch

“There was a cheap black sports watch in the box that you can find at Walmart,” Baran said in a telephone interview.

Julia Baran, 60, was even more outspoken about her disappointment.

“I’m amazed that what was in the box was not what was written on the box,” she said. “I am terribly disappointed that someone will take away the joy of celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary.”

Worse, Baran said, 3Kings refused to refund his purchase.

A woman who picked up the phone earlier this week at 3 Kings said she personally packed and shipped the Rolex and decided not to reimburse Baran or provide him with another watch.

“We have proof that we sent the right item,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.

Pressed for details, the woman told a Southern California News Group reporter to contact 3 Kings’ lawyer, but declined to provide the person’s name or phone number.

Experienced auction buyer

According to the 3 Kings website, the auction house has been operating for more than 25 years and specializes in diamonds, gems and fine jewelry.

Baran, an avid collector of antiques, came across a Rolex while browsing live auctioneers, an online platform that hosts real-time auctions.

Over the years, he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on various items purchased through LiveAuctioneers, and has never had a problem until the collapse of Rolex. LiveAuctioneers is currently investigating Baran’s complaint. The doctor believes that LiveAuctioneers could have put more effort into solving the problem and probably had to remove 3 Kings.

Routine transaction

At first, Baran’s deal with 3 Kings seemed inconspicuous.

The day after winning the auction, he received a standard 3 Kings invoice along with instructions for transferring funds to the Wells Fargo account. He was also informed that the delivery of Rolex could take three weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although he didn’t know it then, the delay was his least problem.

As soon as he received a sports watch instead of a Rolex, Baran began bombarding LiveAuctioneers with emails asking for updates on his refund efforts and expressing growing frustration that the issue was unresolved.

“They offered to return my money if I returned the watch I had bought but never received,” he said in an email to LiveAuctioneers. “I therefore remain convinced that this was a deliberate, fraudulent sale.

In another email to LiveAuctioneers, Baran noted that the same Rolex, which he bought from 3 Kings on November 12, was resold by affiliate Golden Gate Auctioneer less than a month later.

He also included screenshots from the LiveAuctioneers website, showing that the ads for the two watches contained identical photos, descriptions and serial numbers.

There is no resolution

LiveAuctioneers has repeatedly insisted on 3 Kings for details on Baran’s shipment, with a customer service representative advising the company in an email: ”

Neylam Jetwa, vice president of operations at 3 Kings, did not move.

“I believe this customer is not honest, because I packed the Rolex watch and left it directly with FedEx,” Jetva said in an email to a LiveAuctioneers representative. “We are deeply upset that this client is misrepresenting us.”

Baran described Jetva’s explanation as ridiculous.

“How convenient it is to have someone who remembers packing and shipping this particular watch when it sells hundreds a month,” he said. “There’s no way to prove the right watch was sent.”

Jethva also explained how the same Rolex could have been included in the list during two different auctions less than a month apart. “The second list on December 8 must have been a mistake,” she told LiveAuctioneers. “We sent the watch to this bidder and removed the item from our inventory.”

The trial is too expensive

However, Baran remained determined to consult with a Los Angeles lawyer about his options. However, he was informed that a civil lawsuit against the 3 Kings would likely cost more than $ 100,000. Baran also reported the incident to the Bureau for Better Business and a skeptical police detective in Redondo Beach, who suggested that he may have changed his watches himself.

Redondo Beach police did not respond to requests for comment on whether they were investigating the problem.

In the end, the doctor, who just wanted to give his wife an expensive, romantic gift, decided he could do only one thing.

“I was heartbroken that my plans had failed, so I bought a similar watch in Canada,” Baran said. “My story had a happy ending.”

Canadian physician alleges $27,000 Rolex bait-and-switch by California auctioneer

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