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Auction winner sails off

THE value of some World Expo 2010 opening ceremony items quadrupled within an hour at the first auction for the fair's assets yesterday.

The Expo organizer said the prices largely exceeded expectations.

Three motorboats and 10 sailboats used for the ceremony on April 30 sold for more than 1.6 million yuan (US$235,540) combined, up from the 320,000 yuan total list prices.

"I didn't expect such enthusiasm from bidders nor the high winning bids," said Huang Jianzhi, deputy director general of the Expo bureau.

The money will be used to recoup operational expenses, he said. The operational budget was set at 10.6 billion yuan.

Construction contractor Su Shouliang, 43, from Zhejiang Province purchased the first three boats that led the fleet of national flagships during the ceremony.

He said he will take the boats to the two farmer's homes he opened in suburban Shanghai. People can stay at the homes to experience what it's like to live in Shanghai's countryside.

Su said the boat rides will be free when guests stay at one of his farmer's homes.

Forty-three applicants, including 15 company representatives, attended the auction.

About 30 foreigners had expressed interest ahead of the auction but none participated because they thought it would be difficult to bring the boats to their countries, said Fan Ganping, deputy director of state-owned Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co Ltd.

A heated competition began for the first item, a motorboat with the serial number No.1 that led more than 200 flagships on the opening night, when Su kept raising his number plate to push the price to 360,000 yuan from the 80,000 yuan start price.

The actual cost of the boat was about 200,000 yuan, Fan said.

Su purchased a second motorboat for 190,000 yuan and a sailboat for 280,500 yuan. The base price of the sail boat was only 8,000 yuan.

The contractor said he had deep feelings for Expo Shanghai because he helped build China Pavilion's rooftop garden. But he added that he never expected the prices would be so high.

It was rare that most items triggered heated competition among bidders, said Xu Mianzhi, president of the auctioneer.


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