Sixteen pieces of Native American art were auctioned off at the Washington Pavilion on Thursday. But this wasn't your typical auction.
Whether on canvas or in clay, a collection of Native American art featured at the Washington Pavilion depicts cultural significance.
But it was seized by the IRS because the Northern Plains Tribal Arts organization didn't pay federal taxes on the paintings and sculptures at the time of their sales.
"If there are assets available to satisfy the liability, then this is the deal. We use in seizure and sale," Crystal Ferguson, an appraiser for the Internal Revenue Service said.
But several art collectors and enthusiasts didn't want to see the pieces auctioned off separately.
One by one, all of the pieces of art were bid, by the same bidder, in order to keep the collection together.
"We had 40 some donors who made contributions to us to be able to afford to come and bid on this and keep it," President of the Washington Pavilion Larry Toll said.
Donors contributed enough money in order to pay the minimum bid of just over $24,000 to buy the entire collection and keep it here.
"Had we not bid that much, the IRS would have taken it somewhere else to sell it," Toll said.
"The thought of the collection being broken up and going off into various corners of the world that was nerve wracking," donor Matilda Oppenheimer said.
But the auction was a success for the IRS, the Pavilion and the donors.
"That it's going to be secured and well preserved and that our children and grandchildren as well as others in the community will be able to view it over the years," Oppenheimer said.
The Pavilion is going to be dedicating a separate room later this year for Native American art where all the pieces from today's auction will be showcased.