The owners of a building that housed a 150 year old St Andrews auction house have urged the business’ bankrupted owners to help reunite former customers with family heirlooms that were handed in for sale before closure.
Dundee-based Barnetts Properties Limited told The Courier they are having “great difficulty” getting the owners of Macgregors Auctions, Ian and Sandra Urie, to accept liability for ensuring goods are returned to their rightful owners.
Barnetts Properties have spoken to Ian Urie on three occasions and explained that the Uries, as partners, are “legally and morally obligated” to see that everyone receives their rightful goods returned.
Barnetts have made it clear to them that they can get keys for the building whenever they wish to effect the return of goods to their customers.
The company, which is trying to market the property for let, has offered to hold an open day if Mr Urie will come in to sort through the thousands of sale items.
But Barnetts say that when told this, Mr Urie was “very unreceptive to putting any effort into achieving this and ultimately, slammed the phone down on us.”
Martin Clark of Barnetts Properties Limited said: “As owners of the building in which Macgregors Auctions rented, we would firstly like to assure all customers that all goods remain safe and secure within the building.
“Henderson Loggie has been appointed as the liquidators for Ian and Sandra Urie’s personal estates, which means that the business itself is not in liquidation, but it has ceased trading.
“We are shocked at (the Uries’) lack of consideration for their customers and method of bringing a historic business to an end.
“As the partners are now in breach of their lease terms, we will be issuing a letter to bring their lease to the end and requiring them to remove their business contents, which includes customer items, within the next 21 days.
“We have notified trading standards in Fife and have asked them to take control over the situation.
“They are sending a letter to Mr and Mrs Urie explaining their legal obligations in this regard and will presumably also make reference in it to their obligations under their second hand dealers licence.
“In the meantime, we ask that all customers pass on concerns to Fife trading standards.”
Contacted by The Courier, Mr Urie, who has spent a lifetime as an auctioneer, said he was “sorry” the business had to close due to he and his wife being declared bankrupt.
He insisted that anyone who handed in items between September 26 and October 3 would have to contact Barnetts Properties Limited while anyone who handed in items before that would be contacted by Henderson Loggie, he said.
He said he was “stuck in the middle”. He said he was willing to help Barnetts reunite items as a goodwill gesture but he was not willing to accept a set of keys. He said Barnetts would have to set a date and let him know, although he said all paperwork was now with Henderson Loggie.
He said of the closure: “I’m sorry this has happened. I’m afraid it’s come down to the market. People were preferring to buy and sell things on Ebay. People were no longer prepared to pay for things in the sale room. It’s been all downhill since the big economic crunch of 2009.”
It was confirmed in early October that Graeme Smith, insolvency partner at Henderson Loggie, had been appointed to manage the sequestration affairs of owners Sandra and Ian Urie.
However, he has emphasised he would only be involved in dealing with the individuals’ sequestrated estates.