Published: April 6, 2010
Things have not gone well for auctioneer James D. Cyr, owner of Cyr Auction Gallery, since the state of Maine revoked his license and imposed a fine against him and an employee, Thomas Madsen, last November (See Antiques and The Arts Weekly, December 4, 2009)].
In the latest development, Cyr filed for bankruptcy on March 5 with the US Bankruptcy Court.
Creditors are many, and some charge that for several years it appears that Cyr was operating a Ponzi scheme †refusing to pay consigners and creditors what was owed them and hoping the firm’s financial woes would be reversed via the sale of additional consignments tomorrow.
That tomorrow never came, and, according to documents filed with the bankruptcy court, Cyr has nearly $1.8 million in liabilities against assets that fall between $500,000 and $1 million. He may have to surrender his residence, a Victorian home in Gray, as well as the auction gallery on Lewiston Road, although he claims the residence as exempt.
The financial detritus of his failed business has also affected the fortunes of some 100 or so consignors and other creditors. Of course, as the lawyers involved with the bankrupt firm would likely reply, those folks will have to get in line along with other unpaid creditors †and far behind the shorter line of creditors holding secured claims, such as banks.
Two banks †Key Bank of Cleveland, Ohio, and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, Santa Ana, Calif. †are the primary creditors holding secured claims, a total of about $745,000 if the value of the collateral (residence, auction gallery, vehicle) are not considered. In the filing, the value of Cyr’s home is listed as $200,000.
Of the 100 or so consignors listed in the filing †categories include consignor payout, auction consignment and refund overpayment (presumably a refund for a item returned after an auction) †a total of 42 are owed under $1,000, 40 are owed between $1,000 and $5,000, 10 are owed between $5,000 and $10,000, and seven are on the hook for more than $10,000. A California man is owed the most, $78,000.
Maine has no lifetime ban on auctioneers reentering the business, according to Carol Leighton of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation in Bangor. The fact that the Board of Licensing of Auctioneers previously revoked Cyr’s license, fined him and previously imposed sanctions in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, however, would constitute “a high hurdle for him to overcome” in gaining access to the auctioneer’s podium in the future, she said.
Editor’s Note: The Bee Publishing Company, the publisher of this newspaper, is among the listed creditors.