THE troubled Toronto-based auctioneers Ritchies have finally closed after they were declared bankrupt by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The application to order bankruptcy, filed by the auctioneer’s landlord Hildegard Hammer, who is claiming Can$130,000 in unpaid rent, was granted on October 26. As a result, Ritchies‘ skeleton staff (those who remained following the exodus of 27 employees in July) have been laid off and the two-storey saleroom at 380 King Street East repossessed.

According to court documents, 42-year-old Ritchies have a single secured creditor, Fleet Street Financial Corp. of Toronto, owed approximately Can$300,000, and multiple unsecured creditors with claims totalling at least Can$1.5m, including consignors to an auction held in early June.

Rumours of financial turmoil at the self-styled ‘Canada’s Premier Auction House’ first emerged in the wake of a sale of Canadian art held in association with Sotheby’s on May 25.

Sotheby’s, who subsequently terminated the relationship, agreed to pay all consignors for that sale.

By Roland Arkell