A newly reborn Ritchies has been easing back into business in recent months and last night the once-great auction house threw itself a party to christen its brand new showroom at 777 Richmond Street West in Toronto and to celebrate its biggest sale since declaring bankruptcy in fall 2009.
With new owners and a new auction team headed by veteran Dirk Heinze, left, Ritchies is slowly rebuilding a reputation that was trampled by debt and disgrace. The former owner left a wake of furious lenders and consignors who were owed more than $8 million according to trustee records.
Heinze, president of the new Ritchies, made it clear to me last night that “no one from the former company is involved with the new Ritchies. We’ve made a fresh start with an excellent team and we are returning the auction house to respectability.”
Last night’s preview certainly felt like an event. A swish crowd mingled over an impressive inventory of items from the collection of renowned dealer Billy Jamieson, who passed away in 2011. From the tribal art that was his specialty to an eclectic array of art, vintage posters and lighting, Sunday’s sale qualifies as a bona fide event.
Heinze is clearly well-connected judging by last night’s crowd. I spoke with a woman who had consigned the contents of her deceased mother’s home to the dealer and expressed full confidence in his ability to get her fair prices and to settle the bill. Ritchies under Heinze is reviving its much-loved Discovery Sales although none are presently listed on the auctioneer’s website.
So take heart former Ritchies fans and flog the dead horse no more, she’s back on her feet and ready to run.