Is it immoral to withhold pertinent information?

My husband and I were watching TV and something came on about a man who was a huge Civil War history buff. He was talking about some very specific kind of uniform from that era that was so incrdibly rare and very valuable.

Then one day this man went to an estate auction and was looking through a box of WWII uniforms. On the very bottom was one of these rare Civil war uniforms. The man hastily put the other uniforms on top and hoped no one knowledgable would see the rare find.

At the auction he bid on the box and obtained it for about $400. Now the one extremely rare uniform is worth something like $20,000.

My husband says this man was immoral because he withheld information about the real value of the uniform. He says that by covering up the rare uniform he was attempting to defraud the owner by making sure no one else saw it and jacked up the bidding price.

I say that a thing is worth only what people are willing to pay for it, and if no one else in the auction was willing to pay more than $400 for a box of old uniforms, than it was a fair price.

Did this man have a moral obligation to inform the owner that the uniform was rare and valuable?

I certainly think so! Not so much for the money but so others might have the chance to see what they were bidding on.

I wouldn’t say what he did was illegal, per se, but it was unethical, or, at the very least, a little greedy.

No, I don’t believe the buyer was under any obligation whatsoever to inform the seller about the true market value of the goods. Sort of like ‘caveat emptor’(let the buyer beware) but in reverse. If the seller did not deem it important enough to find out the value of the goods beforehand, then that is HIS problem, and not the responsibility of the purchaser.
Good on him for getting a bargain!

I’d have done the same. The seller had the chance to check the value of the goods, but didn’t bother. Other bidders had the opportunity to inspect the uniforms, but didn’t bother. Their tough luck.

That is probably why they say “a fool and his money are soon parted”. You have no moral obligation to pay any more than the offering price for a particular item. If you are negotiating a price for a house and the seller asks less than your maximum price, do you tell the seller that you would be willing to pay more? Of course not. Only a complete moron would do such a thing.

If the seller did not do the necessary due diligence to determine the worth of the items in his possession, you are under no moral imperative to provide him with that information.