Antiquorum Auctioneers, the international watch auction house, changed owners again in late spring.
Artist House Holdings, its former majority shareholder, sold its interest in Antiquorum on May 16 for about $97,000 to a Hong Kong group called Forever Most Investment. However, Antiquorum’s new majority shareholder is Gerald Chase, a business executive, consultant, investor, and watch collector.
Chase, who “represents a group of sophisticated investors,” the company said, participated in Antiquorum’s recent capital increase by purchasing 2,200 shares for about $2.1 million—or 51 percent of Antiquorum—and loaning it about $4.8 million. That left Forever Most Investment with less than 49 percent.
Since the 1970s, Chase has been owner or president and chief executive officer of several domestic and international companies, including ones related to public accounting and real estate. Chase’s investments include RM Auctions, an international classic car auction house, on whose board he served. Antiquorum says he’s been “involved in the watch and jewelry business over the past decade” as a collector and has “participated in buying and selling timepieces at various auction houses.”
Prior to the sale, Antiquorum had a bumpy year. Last August, a new board controlled by Artist House ousted founder Osvaldo Patrizzi as chairman and CEO, as well as longtime Antiquorum officials and staffers. Patrizzi was succeeded as president and CEO by Tsukahara, then an Artist House director.
The new management and Patrizzi responded by filing civil and criminal actions against each other. The new Antiquorum accused Patrizzi and members of his team of financial mismanagement. Patrizzi claimed the new board, formed without his involvement, fired him “to take over control” of Antiquorum. He said accusations of financial mismanagement were “trumped up” to justify the change in management.
Antiquorum continues to hold major watch auctions but has seen the departure not only of former Antiquorum staff and executives since August but also a number of the new ones since January.
On his Web site, Patrizzi expressed “surprise” at the sale’s amount, and “hoped” that the new shareholders will have “the vision and ability to restore Antiquorum to the greatness that it once was.”