Selkirk Auctioneers back with ‘eclectic’ event

Jeff and Amelia Jeffers have invested more than $400,000 over the past year to relaunch Selkirk auctions in the St. Louis market.

The Jeffers, who own the Delaware, Ohio-based Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, bought the Ivey-Selkirk auction house last September for an undisclosed amount and renamed it Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers. The new Selkirk held its first auction July 31, which brought in total sales of just under $375,000, and the company is now gearing up for its second auction Nov. 7.

“We’re pleased with the welcome we’ve received and how things sold in the auction, and we learned a lot about how to run an auction in a new city,” Jeff Jeffers said. Jeffers said the $400,000 local investment included the cost of renovating the Selkirk gallery on McPherson Avenue and other startup costs.

Selkirk now has a local staff of four, which includes Shane Hall, who relocated to St. Louis from Garth’s in Ohio in December to serve as director of the local office; Consignment Representative Bryan Laughlin, a native St. Louisan who previously developed The Hinge art gallery; and a client services representative and a photographer. Jeffers said Selkirk will continue to add staff “as the need grows.” No former Ivey-Selkirk staff members are employed at the gallery.

The upcoming November auction will be what the company calls an “eclectic” auction, featuring items ranging from crystal stemware to folk artwork to an 11-foot French advertising poster for umbrellas. (To see a sample of the items for sale in the Nov. 7 auction — and the expected sale prices — check out the accompanying slideshow.)

Jeffers said Garth’s regularly has these type of eclectic auctions at its Ohio location and expects to hold two to four such auctions in St. Louis annually. In total, Jeffers expects Selkirk to hold between six to 10 auctions a year.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the Jeffers since acquiring Selkirk. The Selkirk family, which sold the business in 1998, is suing to get the family name back.

Andrew and Bruce Selkirk III say that the Garth’s owners’ use of their family name “misleads the public and deceives and confuses the customer.” The Garth’s ownership notes in legal filings that the family let other auctioneers use the name for 16 years without making a claim, and the right to the Selkirk name came with the sale.

Jeffers declined to comment on the pending litigation. “We have every intention to protect the brand and the name,” he said.

The late Bruce Selkirk sold the now 185-year-old auction business to a British auction house in 1998. In 2002, Malcolm Ivey bought the company and renamed it Ivey-Selkirk. In 2013, the company came under fire after customers complained about slow payment, and in some cases nonpayment. In April 2014, Attorney General Chris Koster obtained a restraining order against Ivey-Selkirk and Malcolm Ivey was named in at least seven lawsuits related to customer accusations of nonpayment or slow payment.

Ivey pleaded guilty last month to stealing and agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to 224 customers and four former employees. He received a six-year suspended sentence on five felony counts of stealing and a four-year suspended sentence on one felony county of unlawful business practices.

Jeffers said the response he has received since reviving the Selkirk name has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“The preview week of our inaugural auction, we saw huge numbers of people and just about everybody took a moment to tell us how pleased they were that we had made this choice and that we were going to keep a name that had been associated with auctions for so long,” he said.

- first released 10-29-2015 in the St. Louis BizTalk Blog

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