Purchase Story

Manhattan Dealer Strikes Plea Deal in Ivory Case

The owner of a Manhattan-based antiques store and his corporation were charged with felonies in connection with illegal ivory sales in New York County Criminal Court in October, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Alexander Sakhai and Alexander’s Antiques Inc. of 1050 Second Avenue were each charged with two counts of illegal commercialization of fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and wildlife, a Class E felony, and two counts of illegal commercialization of fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and wildlife, a Class D felony.

According to a press release, DEC police officers, working undercover on a tip, purchased an ivory item from the store in July. The item was brought to the American Museum of Natural History for analysis, and experts at the museum determined that the piece was carved from authentic elephant ivory and therefore could not be legally sold.

A search warrant executed on July 21 revealed that the store had for sale approximately 130 illegal ivory items in excess of $25,000. The items were confiscated.

As part of a plea deal, Alexander’s Antiques Inc. agreed to donate $60,000 to the Wildlife Conservation Society to help end the illegal poaching of elephants in Africa. Alexander’s Antiques Inc. also agreed to forfeit more than 100 ivory articles to New York state.

Sakhai also pleaded guilty to illegal commercialization of wildlife, and the corporation pleaded guilty to the Class E felony of illegal commercialization of elephant ivory.

The sale of more than $1500 worth of products made from elephant ivory without having first obtained a DEC license or permit is a felony in New York. The law allows for limited exceptions, such as antiques demonstrated to be at least 100 years old that contain less than 20% ivory.

Originally published in the December 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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