Medford hunter's exotic collection goes on sale

  • Former Medford hunter, philanthropist Art Dubs' hunting collection will be auctioned Saturday by his foundation.
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    • Exotic mount sales require copious documentation

      When it came to tracking his big-game hunts and the fruits of them, Medford's Arthur Dubs was a stickler for keeping complete records — and that just might make the difference in whether s...

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      Exotic mount sales require copious documentation

      When it came to tracking his big-game hunts and the fruits of them, Medford's Arthur Dubs was a stickler for keeping complete records — and that just might make the difference in whether some of his more exotic pieces can go up for auction Saturday.

      The planned auction of two ivory elephant tusks, a white rhinoceros shoulder mount, rhinoceros horns and an ibex will hinge on whether exact paperwork can be assembled to meet sale criteria laid out in a 1973 international treaty.

      The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known worldwide as CITES, is written to ensure commercial trade of animals and animal parts don't hurt the chances of their survival as a species.

      For legal sale of CITES-regulated animals, proof of legal hunting, documentation that it was lawfully killed in the wild and documentation of proper import into the United States are required, says Sheila O'Connor, agent in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Wilsonville.

      "They may have the paperwork on it," O'Connor says. "I don't know. I haven't seen it.

      "In general, it's not supposed to be easy to commercialize any of this stuff," O'Connor says.

      The service does not do pre-sale inspections like the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife does.

      Should a sale go through improperly, the buyer, seller and even the auctioneer could be held criminally liable, she says.

      "It's buyer beware," O'Connor says.

      David Hyatt, a member of the Arthur R. Dubs Foundation board of trustees, is helping arrange documentation for the auction and has asked the service for help ensuring he has the proper documentation for the sale.

      Documents show, for instance, the tusks belonged to an elephant shot by Dubs on March 26, 1990, in South Africa and imported two years later through CITES, Hyatt says.

      "We have complete files," Hyatt says. "If it turns out that we can't sell the tusk, we won't."

      Large swaths of hides that are part of Dubs' collection will not be auctioned off because it would take too long to document each hide, Hyatt says. The foundation likely will look for an avenue to donate them, he says.

  • In 1997, Medford hunter and philanthropist Art Dubs commissioned an artist to paint a 6-foot-tall likeness of Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph, with the intent that the likeness would hang in the rotunda of a museum he planned to build to display his hunting trophies.
    The museum never materialized, so the painting instead hung in a Scottsdale, Ariz., art gallery, appraised at $95,000.
    The painting and 309 other unique items, from African hunting trophies to bronze masks and exotic guns, will be up for sale Saturday during a liquidated auction to fuel Dubs' charitable foundation.
    "I have no idea what that painting will sell for, but it's there," says J.B. Dimick, one of two auctioneers hired for the auction.
    The painting will be joined at the sale by African ivory tusks, a full-sized mounted Alaskan brown bear and bighorn sheep and even a shoulder mount of a white rhinoceros, among other exotic items.
    "It's part of what I would say is probably one of the most sought-after and available collections to ever hit the West," says Dimick, who is joined by Grants Pass auctioneer Wayne Liska on the project.
    The bidding, live and online through Proxibid.com, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Padgham Pavilion on the grounds of The Expo off Peninger Road near Central Point.
    A public preview of the items will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Friday at The Expo.
    A Phoenix native, Dubs was a homebuilder and outdoor film producer with a passion for big-game hunting, hopscotching the world on exotic hunts that he filmed as documentaries. He was also well-known for his donations, helping fund such things as a cancer center bearing his name at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford.
    He died June 11, 2013, in Medford at age 83.
    Dubs' hunting prowess reached its zenith in 1960 when he killed a world-record polar bear that landed him in the Guinness World Records book and Life magazine. He followed that up nearly three decades later by bagging a record desert bighorn ram, later unveiling a mount of the animal as well as a documentary on the hunt itself.
    Dubs still holds the Boone and Crockett Club's world record for the largest "grand slam" of the four North American bighorn sheep species.
    A stickler for details, Dubs kept precise records of his hunts and about the trophies he brought home, and these records could make all the difference in whether some of his most exotic pieces can be sold.
    "I have permits for every place Art went hunting in the world," says David Hyatt, a trustee on the Arthur R. Dubs Foundation board.
    Many of his mounts have been donated or on loan to places such as the Bass Pro Shops store and displays in Springfield, Mo., Hyatt says.
    Dubs instructed that the remaining items in his collection be sold and the profits turned over to the foundation, which records show is worth about $6 million.
    Oregon big-game trophies cannot be sold while the hunter is alive, but they can be cleared for sale from the hunter's estate after his death and only if the mounts are inspected by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists.
    Species shot outside of Oregon but brought into the state do not fall under that statute, says ODFW biologist Steve Niemela.
    Sales of mounts of threatened or endangered animals are regulated under international treaty.
    Niemela and fellow biologist Clayton Barber on Tuesday inspected and approved for sale many of the mounts.
    "The collection is impressive, and not just the mounts," Niemela says.
    Hyatt says he is in the process of amassing paperwork needed to sell some of the exotic mounts shipped into the country from places such as Africa.
    Dimick says the collection has drawn interest from throughout the country.
    "I think this auction will be one of the bigger deals to hit Southern Oregon," he says. "Who knows what it will raise? It could be a grand total of $100,000. It could be a half-million dollars."
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.
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