'Just a stunt': No bids for US$16.4m Italian castle on Taobao

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 May, 2015, 3:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 May, 2015, 6:25pm

A "Renaissance-era" Italian castle put up for auction on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao attracted no bids in what users criticised as a publicity stunt.

Located in Verona in northern Italy, the starting price for the castle was set at 100 million yuan (US$16.4 million).

It was offered for sale on Taobao's Paimai property auction site, by Beijing-based immigration firm Cansine, which claimed that the buyer would be able to apply for residency in Italy.

The sale was promoted heavily by Taobao in a press release which included quotes from an Italian consular official, attracting widespread media coverage.

A Taobao spokeswoman said that the auction "generated great interest from our users within the [bidding] period." 

"Given it is a substantial investment, our Italian partner is furnishing additional information to those interested, including potential site visits," she said.

The castle was one of more than 100 properties, including dozens of apartments in Milan, being offered on the Paimai subsite.

However, as the 10pm deadline drew near with no bids in sight, Chinese online commentators called foul.

"Not a single bid so far, real rich people won't come here. This is just a stunt," said one of more than 90,000 people who viewed the auction page.

Alibaba's Taobao is estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the consumer-to-consumer market in China. Under its rules, the seller is responsible for the authenticity of the item description and supporting documentation.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse