An Auckland auction house criticised for selling a historic rhinoceros horn has today removed it from sale.

Cordy's fine art and antique auctioneers included the 2.54kg curved rhino horn, with "old dark patina", in its latest sale catalogue with an estimate of $40-50,000.

However, the legal sale drew criticism from animal rights campaigners.

Today, auctioneer Andrew Grigg told the Herald that he's decided to remove the item from auction.


"With all the publicity around this item and the strong opinions that people hold, we've decided not to sell this rhino horn at auction. It has been withdrawn," said Mr Grigg.

The horn has been returned to its Auckland vendor, who bought it in New Zealand about 15 years ago.

The 2.54kg curved rhino horn which has been removed from sale. Photo / Cordy's
The 2.54kg curved rhino horn which has been removed from sale. Photo / Cordy's

Mr Grigg said the rhino horn sale met all rules and regulations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement.

While he decided to remove it from sale, he holds fears that the trade of such items could be pushed underground.

In 2013, Webb's auction house in Auckland sold a pair of carved rhino horns for $797,300 in a record-breaking sale.

Mr Grigg said if similar items, or antique carved rhino horn libation cups over a century old, came across his desk, he would consider them for sale.

"There is an argument that the rhino horn was just a straight commodity, with no artistic input put into it at all. However, you could argue differently to something carved over 100 years ago by some master carver."

Criticism of the sale also raised the issue of whether auction houses or traders should be allowed to sell fur coats, Nazi memorabilia, ivory items, or whalebone carvings, Mr Grigg said.