Melbourne Docklands waterfront
Melbourne in Australia, where three new auction firms have been recently founded. Image by SA 3.0 via WikiMedia Commons.

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Three auction houses have been launched in Melbourne by former staff of collapsed saleroom Mossgreen.

Specialists in stamps and coins, decorative arts, jewellery and classic cars are behind the ventures seeking to fill a vacuum left by the loss of one of Australia’s largest auction houses in December (ATG No 2324).

The first to be up and running is Abacus Auctions, which is led by Torsten Weller, Mossgreen’s ex-head of philately.

Weller purchased the Mossgreen stamps and coins department from the receivers earlier this year.

He is joined by five other ex-Mossgreen staff: fellow stamps and postcards specialist Gary Watson, Nick Anning (coins and banknotes), Max Williamson (sporting memorabilia and cigarette cards), Debbie Drinnan (client liaison) and Yang Liu (IT manager).

Weller told ATG he could not reveal the price paid to purchase the department’s business but said that, as well as an outright payment, a substantial non-cash component was involved.

Vendors satisfied

Part of the deal included giving Mossgreen stamps and coins vendors the option of having their material returned free-of-charge or consigning it to the first Abacus sale in May.

“Over 90% chose to re-consign their material,” said Weller. “Our first auction has enabled these consignors to finally realise the value of their material. They put faith in us and got a great result in the end.”

In all, around 2500 lots held by Mossgreen were sold for Aus$1m.

Abacus is planning six to eight sales per year, with its first numismatic and sporting auction on July 22. Weller had joined Mossgreen in 2016 after it bought his firm, Torsten Weller Postal History.

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Torsten Weller, the owner of the newly formed Abacus Auctions.

Weller added that Abacus established a client account before holding its first auction, and has committed to make vendor payment in full within 45 days after each sale.

Meanwhile, former head of decorative arts at Mossgreen Jennifer Gibson founded a new auction house in June. Gibson’s, which is co-owned with an investment partner, is planning 12-15 sales of art, antiques and jewellery a year.

Gibson’s confirmed that it too is operating a client account.

Ex-Mossgreen staff joining Gibson’s are Patti Sedgwick (jewellery), Deanna Baxter (single-owner sales) and Elliott Hughes (auctions manager and decorative arts specialist).

Gibson’s is based in the Melbourne suburb of Armadale, nearby to the former Mossgreen headquarters, and its first auction is scheduled for August.

Likewise, former Mossgreen head of cars and motoring Robert Richards has founded Donington Auctions along with Cameron Sabine. The new classic cars, motorcycles and automobilia specialists is based in the Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham and its first auction is planned for later this year.

These developments follow the purchase in March of New Zealand auction house Webb’s which was also owned by Mossgreen. Two businessmen from Auckland, Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie and Bruce Qin, rescued the saleroom following the collapse of the parent company and regular calendar of sales in now in operation.