|By Robert Kyle
There’s nothing worse than a flat beer on a summer day. The full bottle of historic Allsopp’s Arctic Ale sold Aug. 12 on eBay for a record $503,300 is now filled with empty promises. The auction had many bogus bids, leaving the seller holding the bag – and the bottle.
As AntiqueWeek reported on Aug. 20, the still-capped container was first purchased on eBay on June 21 by a Tulsa, Okl., man whose eBay user name is collectordan. He bought the bottle from a new eBay user in Lynn, Mass., for $304. That seller said it had been in his family "for generations."
Collectordan researched the bottle and realized he had an important artifact of British Arctic exploration history. The Allsopp’s ale had been brewed in 1852 especially for Sir Edward Belcher who added a quantity of the ale to his ship’s cache of provisions for a two-year quest to find the lost ships and crew of Sir John Franklin.
Belcher didn’t find Franklin and this reporter was hitting a few icebergs himself. Because the seller lives in Tulsa, I asked Wayne Greene, city editor of Tulsa World, to look into it. He assigned a young reporter, Althea Peterson. I had exchanged emails with collectordan but after the auction he was flooded with requests for information and our communication stopped.
Peterson was able to resume where I left off. Her story on the bottle appeared in the Aug. 28 issue of Tulsa World. Here’s what she found out:
The bottle is owned by Daniel P. Woodul. He is 25 and CEO of Sebris International, a company whose "primary goals are project facilitation and management in the Middle East." Its website was not operating at press time.
"After winning the aged bottle [on June 21], Woodul said he decided to appraise its value by re-auctioning it off," wrote Peterson. He told her, "I just sat back and waited. You wouldn’t believe all the emails I’ve received."
Here are more excerpts from her article:
"’The thing that really bothered me was people were contacting the original seller and basically coming down on this guy, calling him an idiot," Woodul said, noting that the original eBay seller had the bottle in his possession for 50 years. "Buying and selling is such a fickle thing. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to research what something is worth.’"
"Woodul isn’t expecting to cash a half-million dollar check anytime soon," Peterson wrote. "The bidder, known as v00d004sc0re on eBay, called him the night the auction ended. ’No hard feelings,’ Woodul said."
"’I talked to him the evening of and he basically said he wasn’t going to follow-through. He came out up front and said his bid was a joke bid.’"
Reporter Peterson said Woodul told her the bottle now rests in a safety deposit box. "He currently has no plans to sell it or even relist it on eBay, despite six-figure offers for the bottle," she reported. Woodul told her he may donate it to charity.
As for the fake high bidder, a resident of Somerville, Mass., and the subject of an article in the Somerville News for winning such an historic item, he has emerged unscathed and continues to buy and sell on eBay.
eBay said in the Aug. 20 article that all winning bids are "legal contracts" which, if not honored, may be subject to "legal action." There is no indication Woodul will seek punishment or damages against his half-million dollar prankster.