Due to numerous client complaints over non-payment, St Louis Missouri Attorney General has issued a temporary restraining order on auction house Ive-Selkirk to cease sales. The article states there have been over 40 complaints to the Attorney Generals office and 77 to the Better Business Bureau. The complaints are for non-payment, bounced checks and refusing to return property. Ivey-Selkirk has not responded, and local officials fear the number of clients not being paid will rise.
The St Louis Post Dispatch reports
Source: St Louis Post DispatchAfter 184 years in business, a Clayton auction house that has been plagued recently by customer complaints over missed payments is temporarily barred from operating following the issuance of a restraining order sought by the Missouri Attorney General's office.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office said the restraining order against Ivey-Selkirk Auctions and Appraisals and owner Malcolm Ivey is related to a civil petition it filed April 3 in St. Louis County Circuit Court that accuses the auction house and Ivey of unfair business practices and making false promises in violation of Missouri's Merchandising Practices Act.
Ivey-Selkirk, which specializes in auctioning fine art, jewelry, and automobiles, ceased holding auctions this year as complaints of missed payments mounted. Ivey did not return calls seeking comment.
In its petition, the attorney general alleges customers' checks from Ivey-Selkirk bounced and the auction house refused to return items to consumers when requested.
Koster is seeking to permanently prohibit Malcolm Ivey and Ivey-Selkirk from providing auction services in Missouri, civil penalties and reimbursement of the state's costs for the investigation. It's also seeking repayment for customers or the return of their items.
"We are examining very closely the circumstances that apparently led this company to cease doing business, leaving consumers without payment," Koster said in a statement. "Our priority is to protect consumers who never received the money they were owed."
As part of its investigation, the attorney general's office, the Clayton Police Department and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch executed a search warrant of Ivey-Selkirk's office on April 1.
The temporary restraining order signed by St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge David Vincent III Monday prohibits Ivey-Selkirk from accepting consigned items, selling goods, removing property from its offices on Forsyth Boulevard, destroying documents or spending funds received from current or former clients. In issuing the restraining order, the court ordered Ivey-Selkirk to post a note on the entrance of its business notifying customers they cannot remove items from the business without proof of ownership.
The attorney general's office said it has received about 40 complaints in recent months from customers who allege they did not receive payments owed from Ivey-Selkirk. The local Better Business Bureau also has received 77 complaints against the company since the start of the year, said BBB investigator Bill Smith.
Because the contracts Ivey-Selkirk signed with customers typically required payment 60 days following a sale, Joe Bindbeutel, chief of the attorney general office's Consumer Protection Division, said he expects the number of affected customers to rise. "There may be a whole lot of victims who don't know they're victims," he said.
Bindbeutel said the investigation, which is ongoing, revealed that Ivey's past practice was to use proceeds from unrelated auction sales to pay customers for money owed on other auctions. "Mr. Ivey was robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that's a business plan that never catches up with itself," Bindbeutel said.
Ivey-Selkirk is facing multiple lawsuits from customers, including a breach of contract suit filed in February by Connie Kling of Webster Groves, who alleges she is owed $50,000 from an auction of her jewelry in December. "The items were sold and the proceeds have not been delivered after numerous requests," said Kling's attorney, Joseph Bante.
Malcolm Ivey purchased the auction house in 2002 from London-based Phillips, which acquired it from the Selkirk family in 1998. The Selkirk family ran the auction house that was founded in 1830 for six generations before selling it to Phillips.
Customers who did not receive payments from Ivey-Selkirk can contact the attorney general's office to file a complaint by calling 800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov/consumercomplaint.htm.