Two senior staffers at Ivey-Selkirk, the St. Louis, Missouri, auction house, gave their notice on January 27, resigning from the firm in order to start a new St. Louis auction company. Five other former Ivey-Selkirk employees also resigned.
Susan Kime and Terry Beye have founded Link Auction Galleries, named after architect Theodore Link, who designed the St. John’s United Methodist Church where the new company will conduct business. Kime will serve as president in the new company, and Beye will be senior vice president. Beye had been at Ivey-Selkirk for 30 years, and Kime was there for at least 20.
Ivey-Selkirk has been dogged for several years by reports of late payments to consignors. In 2011, the Better Business Bureau suggested “that consumers exercise caution when consigning items to the auction house…The BBB has logged 18 complaints involving the company, a dozen of those in the past 12 months. The company has an ‘F’ grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.”
In early January, the St. Louis Business Journal chronicled troubles at Ivey-Selkirk in a story titled “Bidding Down: Ivey-Selkirk under Fire as Sales Slip, Customer Complaints Mount.”
Beye said, “I wasn’t comfortable taking in property. My customers weren’t getting paid, or they were being paid very late…and it seemed to get longer and longer. I wasn’t comfortable with the situation.”
As for the new firm, Beye noted, “We quickly put together a business plan. We acted fast and approached some people, and they were very excited to help us.” Investors have provided $500,000 to back the new project.
“You talk about a hard decision,” Beye said about his move. “I did what I could for the company for the longest time. It was not easy…There was a lack of communication. I didn’t know what was going on. I always asked ‘Are we OK?’ Some of my consignors were not paid—or at least the payments were delayed. We’re looking forward to this new auction house. And the community seems to be very supportive at this point. It’s exciting what we’re about to embark on.”
The new location will be at 5000 Washington at Kingshighway. “We plan to compete on a high level,” Beye said.
On Monday, February 3, Malcolm Ivey, president and owner of Ivey-Selkirk, called the remaining workers and told them not to report to work, a source said. One observer said the doors to the auction house are locked.
M.A.D.’s repeated phone and e-mail inquiries about the status of Ivey-Selkirk, which claims on its Web site to have been in business since 1830, went unanswered.
In September 2013, Enrique Perinetti filed suit against Ben J. Selkirk & Sons Inc., d/b/a Ivey-Selkirk. In December, a default judgment was entered against the company, awarding Perinetti $5950 plus $10,000 in punitive damages.
A pending suit was filed on December 19, 2013, by billionaire lawyer and investor Bruce Karsh, who claims Ivey-Selkirk owes Clayton St. Louis Property LLC, owned by Karsh, $60,000 for the sale of two paintings.
Malcolm Ivey sent an e-mail to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on February 5, noting that the firm had canceled its upcoming auction and was conducting business “on an appointment basis with our existing clients.”
Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest