Update @ 6:36 PM on 12/12: The steam auction system is back as they have apparently patched the problem.
Well, that didn't take long at all.
Less than 24 hours after Steam announced its new auction system to bid on games before their annual winter sale, exploits were found that were able to duplicate gems, the new currency that was to be used to bid on the games in question, has caused Valve to put the service on hold. At this time, the Valve "elves" are working on getting the problems dealt with, but there is no word on when the service will be back out. Several users have reported their gems now missing from their backpacks as well, which is causing even more chaos .
The issue was first noted by Reddit users, as several users began to notice people with particular large amounts of gems in their inventory, that could not have been gotten through natural means. In one case, a user had gotten 1873025573 gems at the time of a screen capture, which would have been able to most likely overwhelm the market and the new economy that Valve had put into place. To put in comparison, trading cards (depending on the rarity) would be going for values such as 10 to 20 gems.
Several users are really upset at the news, in particular with those who were attempting to exploit the system for their own personal gain. With 100 copies available for over 2000 different games that were to be put up for auction, and the lack of real-world cash needed to bid on those games, it was another way that Valve was experimenting and interacting with the community. This isn't new for the holiday and summer events for Valve, as the coal system that was introduced 2 years ago also was exploited using the Humble Bundle and getting the free achievements to gather the coal at that time. Needless to say, when games can be won, there will be a select few out there that will do whatever it takes to try to win those games.
When more information becomes available, we will update at that time. Hopefully, Valve can get the issue sorted out quickly, and can back to regular holiday festivities.