Peter Rowland Catering caught amid the Mossgreen auction house administration creditors

Peter Rowland Catering caught amid the Mossgreen auction house administration creditors
Peter Rowland Catering caught amid the Mossgreen auction house administration creditors

Peter Rowland, the Melbourne society catering company ranks among the top six unsecured creditors, after the auction house Mossgreen fell into voluntary external administration last month.

Mossgreen, known for its Armadale tea rooms at 926-930 High Street, and single-owner house content sales, owes $5.8 million to auction clients, plus $6 million to its secured creditor, the former part-owner, Jack Gringlas.

The assets have been advised as $1.6 million in the bank and $1.2 million owed by auction lot buyers.

Around $166,000 is owed to the catering company who sent its executive director Steven Abela to the first creditors' meeting. There were 330 creditors identified at the meeting last week who were told no law required trust accounts for the auction proceeds.

The names of the creditors are a who's who from across Australia, ranging from passionate collectors, socialites, low key business tycoons to deceased estates.

The biggest unsecured creditor stemmed from the auction of a book collection.

Some $1.75 million is owed to the family of the late wealthy insurance underwriter Martin Copley who auctioned off the books in October.

The British-born Copley, but Perth-based businessman, remembered for founding the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), died in 2014.

His auction items included John Gould's monumental The Birds of Australia, a large folio in eight volumes with 681 hand-coloured lithographed plates, bound in dark green morocco by Riviere, an original subscriber's set, which sold at $446,400 including premium.

Martin's daughter, Sophie Chamberlain sits on the board of AWC.

The second biggest client was another deceased estate, that of the late South Australian building industry icon Alan Hickinbotham and his late wife Margaret. 

It was billed as the highest value collection ever to be sold in Adelaide when auctioned in May by Mossgreen's chief, Paul Sumner.

The family are still owned somewhere between $960,000 and $1.2 million. The sold works included a Russell Drysdale, Grandma’s Sunday Walk, which had an estimated value of $1.8 million to $2.2 million. It was one of the last masterpieces painted by acclaimed Australian artist just before he lost his eyesight — selling for $2.97 million, the fifth-highest price for any Australian artwork at auction.

The total collection in the Unley Park home sold for $4.35 million.

Sydney's society Coppleson family were listed as owed $465,000, the third highest-owed creditor.

It followed the sale of the contents of the Macleay Regis penthouse, home of the late esteemed gynaecologist Professor Malcolm Coppleson and his late wife, Patricia, who was Vogue Living’s editor-at-large.

The 172 lots (pictured above onsite) included the sale of a $192,200 Ian Fairweather work which had an $80,000 to $120,000 price guidance. A Tim Maguire fetched $117,800.

Trevor Chappell, the Sydney-based property developer, is owed $130,000, having developed a strong appreciation of Aboriginal art with wife, Carole before they then diversified into modern Western art. The works were initially displayed at the couple's Sydney home but as the collection grew it went on show at the company's offices and then toured community groups across Australia.

The collection was offered following a review of the Chappell family's estate planning.

Mossgreen's most recent auction on December 7 last year was the contents of the Sheehy family with just 274 of the 438 lots being sold. The family, who are owed $45,000, inquired at the meeting whether Sumner's passport would be surrendered.

Ralph Drexel was listed as being owed $43,000.

The Jelbart family were owed $50,000 after the sale of the contents of the trophy Eltham home, Kinloch.

Torbjorn Von Strokirch is owned $225,000.

Perth socialite Rhonda Wyllie is owed $145,000. Ruth Rosalion owed $43,000.

Leonie Weldon ranks among the creditors owned $32,000. 

Tom Frommer is owed $17,000. Frommer's collection of pioneer Australian air mails was billed as one of the more important events in the philatelic calendar.

Deeta McGeogh, Michele Asprey, Patsy Kentwell, Vernia Bullivant, Bill Curry, and Ellen Kronen (the Waterhouse family collection) were owned between $1000 and $10,000.

Likewise Rex Dupain after the sale of Max Dupain works.

Sam Gazal, Judy Roach, Michael Greenhalgh and Manuela Bennett are among the creditors owed $1000 or less. There was also Garry Hounsell.

John Gould was owed $862. 

Paul Sumner, who opted not to attend the meeting, and his fellow director, and wife, Amanda Swanson were listed as being entitled to $470.

Sumner, the son of art and antique dealers, took his first auction at age 17.

Judi Hausmann appears on the creditors list without any amount showing, as did Antony Loneragan.

Businesses owed money include Grace Worldwide owed $43,000, Courtney Colour catalogues $62,000 plus, Talisman Art owed $176,000, Exhibitions & Trade Fairs owed $90,000 and the ad agency Spinach owed $50,000.

Brooklands Classic Cars owed $48,000 has asked the BDO administrators to seek out the motor car trader guarantee fund.

After attracting financial backing from Melbourne developer Mohan Du, Peter Rowland Catering, Melbourne’s longest running hospitality group, was acquired by investment firm Capital Alliance last September, allowing it to continue trading after personal circumstances and poor management had resulted in it posting financial losses.

The Age reported Peter Rowland Catering had been quietly placed into administration last August.

Rowland sold his $8.6 million Toorak mansion he and his wife had built – "the business paid for the house, so I thought it was right that the house should support the business," he said – and used the money to bail out the beleaguered business.

The catering company employs more than 100 full-time staff and 2000 part-timers throughout the year and Rowland said only about half a dozen jobs had been lost as a result of the acquisition.

After all the catering company turmoil, most of all, Rowland, who remains chairman, but without equity, indicated he wanted to be able look people in the eye.

"I am part of Melbourne. Melbourne is my town," he said.

"I don't want to walk away from it."




Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

Administration Mossgreen

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