There is a new gavel master in town. He will take the stage for the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction in Jaipur on December 18. Meet Hugh Edmeades, an independent fine art, classic car and charity auctioneer.
In a career spanning four decades, Edmeades was associated with the iconic Christie’s for 38 years before going independent in 2016.
He has conducted more than 2,500 auctions across the globe, but only had a brief brush with cricket auction. The one he remembers took place at the Lord’s in 1987. “It was the MCC Bicentenary auction. It was a big auction, with many cricketers present,” Edmeades tells Sportstar.
Taking over from Richard Madley, his former colleague at Christie’s, Edmeades hopes to start off on a good note. “I am very excited about the auction in Jaipur and I am honoured and privileged to be hosting the auction.”
He will meet the franchise bosses for a briefing on the eve of the auction.
Madley 'hurt' by snub
While Edmeades pads up for the new gig, Madley, who conducted the IPL auctions for the last 11 years, is "hurt" with the way he was ignored for this year's event.
“I got an indication that the BCCI was planning to change up the auction. The venue was new, there were new timings and I assumed that they were perhaps going to bring in an auctioneer, who is younger and has experience. May be, they were looking at an Indian,” Madley, 60, says.
He admitted he was surprised to see Edmeades was picked. “He is older than me. We have worked together at Chrstie’s. He was in the US, I was in the UK. He is a fine art auctioneer, but has no experience of IPL. That was an insult to me and I was hurt.”
Madley says top officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) asked him on November 19 to "confirm" his availability. “So, I thought may be the person they were looking at did not work out. But now it seems that Hugh had already been lined up by then and the decision to drop me was rubber-stamped.”
Madley adds, “I confirmed my availability and all I got was a two-line email saying, ‘Your services are not required. We have chosen a replacement auctioneer.’ There was no explanation. I wonder what did I do wrong? What was my fault? I have maintained transparency and I expect the same treatment from them?”
Madley had conducted all IPL auctions since the league’s inception in 2008. Despite the hurt, he has fond memories of the event.
“I only have happy memories. The auctions was unheard of in cricket until 2008 and the IPL broke the ground in the history of auctions. Now, it has become a part of Indian culture and a household thing,” he says.
Yuvraj Singh controversy
He found himself in middle of a controversy in the 2014 auction when Royal Challengers Bangalore’s then co-owner Vijay Mallya filed an official protest over the bidding for Yuvraj Singh.
Three franchises — Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore — were bidding for Yuvraj. Kings XI got left behind, but RCB and KKR continued bidding. At Rs 10 crore, it was announced that Yuvraj had been sold to RCB. However, KKR officials said they had their paddle up and the auctioneer hadn’t noticed. Madley later said his view was blocked and the auction was restarted. RCB got Yuvraj, but for Rs 14 crore.
Madley says, “We resolved the things and I shook hands with Mr Mallya after that. I explained that I am handling the things and I am the only umpire, there is no one else. There is huge amount of pressure and responsibility.”
Seeking the truth
He says the IPL auctions operate differently. "There is no incentive for the auctioneer for driving the price upwards."
The last 11 years had given Madley a recognition in this part of the world, but now that another auction nears, he wants a few answers. “I am a free individual and I can question the BCCI. The truth must come out…”
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