CONSUMER ALERT: Art Auction At Brentwood Hotel May Not Have Advertised Items

Posted at 4:11 PM, Jun 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-05 17:16:31-04
Residents got a flier in the mail advertising an auction of seized assets to be held Monday night. If you were thinking about going to pick up a signed Andy Warhol print or a 12-carat diamond bracelet, you may leave disappointed. 

According to the flyer, the auction will feature signed works by well-known artists, "fine jewelry" and silk rugs – much of it supposedly "seized assets.”

However, there are questions not only about the people who run the auction, but also the goods they’re selling.

The fine print on the flyer indicates the items advertised may not really be available.

It reads, “Items pictured subject to prior sale and may not be available at this auction.”

NewsChannel 5 Investigates showed the ad to Sarah Campbell Drury, Vice President at Case Auctions and Appraisals in Nashville.

“That doesn't really help build a level of trust between the consumer and the auction house," said Drury.

Drury said there were a lot of red flags on the ad. For starters, the auction is being held at a hotel. The auction company itself is not in Tennessee.

“You don't want to deal with somebody who might just be here for one weekend, and might be here today and gone tomorrow," Drury advised.

She said with an auction you should know exactly who you’re buying from.

The man running the auction in Brentwood, Dion Abadi and his brother, Gavin, have been travelling the country for years with these sorts of auctions. They've been investigated in nearly a dozen states and gotten into trouble repeatedly.

They’ve been cited in Tennessee for improper advertising and unlicensed activity.

Multiple customers have complained they were misled about what they were buying.

“There are, of course, bargains at every auction, but you also don't want to get caught up in bidding a lot of money for something that may not be exactly what you thought it was," Drury cautioned.

Another red flag, according to Drury, was that the auction opened at 7 p.m., but buyers weren’t scheduled to get their first look at the items for sale until 6:30 p.m.

"I would be really nervous if you only have thirty minutes in which to make up your mind if you're going to spend a lot of money," she said.

When spending a lot of money at auction, Drury said it’s important to do your homework. She said her company, for example, puts out a catalog of all the items for sale several weeks before their auctions. Buyers can find out ahead of time what they’re bidding on and what it’s really worth.

Finally, travelling auctions often offer certificates of authenticity for what they sell. However, experts say when you get them from an auction company, they really aren't worth much. What you really want is some sort of certification from a recognized expert on the artist.