Mossgreen administration gathers no white knight

Mossgreen administration gathers no white knight
Mossgreen administration gathers no white knight

The anticipated rescue of auction house Mossgreen is not happening.

Its 330 plus creditors were advised Mossgreen founder Paul Sumner had indicated his proposed deed of arrangement was not proceeding.

Instead Sumner will do everything in his power "to help creditors, to maximise what they receive,’’ he told Fairfax Media.

Some $5.8 million is owed to clients who sold paintings, books, cars and other collectibles through the company over recent months.

Around 30 of the firm's 40 plus staff were made redundant by administrators on Wednesday.

The remaining staff will do a stocktake of items still being held on premises.

The items are not considered Mossgreen assets having been consigned goods, although their return will be delayed until a full stocktake is complete, a statement said.

The former backer Jack Gringlas's Jadig Investments is the major secured creditor.

The secured loan facility from Jadig was provided to fund its expansion with interest being charged at $40,000 a month

The auction house 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 former part-owner, Jack Gringlas.

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 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.

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. 

The collapse of the much heralded restructuring plan means that an earlier hope of the gallery's co-founder to return all vendor money is now uncertain, according to Fairfax Media.

"When I said that vendor creditors would be paid 100 cents in the dollar and staff would keep their jobs, it was based on a witnessed agreement with the secured creditor," Sumner told The Australian Financial Review on Wednesday.

But when previously asked the about creditors' chances of getting their money back, Gringlas had officially noted Sumner had "written to every vendor and told them they're going to get 100 cents in the dollar ... that he is putting in place arrangements to ensure that they all get paid. So he must believe it. I don't know where that money is coming from because there isn't the money in the company, so I can only assume he's planning to bring more money into the company."

Gringlas sold the leased High Street, Melbourne premises mid-last year for around $10 million to John Karkar.

The collapse of this supposed agreement with Jadig Investments, which Sumner declined to detail to The Australian Financial Review, means the distribution of funds is in the hands of administrators.

The inside suggestion is 20 cents in the dollar.

In a statement, the administrators said they would now "begin the process of an orderly wind down of the business. Notwithstanding this, a sale will be considered and expressions of interest shall be sought."

Mossgreen was founded in 2004 by Sumner and wife Amanda Swanson.

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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