Ozbid Auctions is the reincarnation of Arthouse Auctions which was widely accused outside of unethical trading, of producing fake and misattributed artworks.
Here are two articles from The Australian, dated January & May, 2015, when Arthouse was under pressure and when it was reformed as Ozbid Auctions.
Police in four states, ACCC field Arthouse claims
THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 30, 2015
It has been accused of offering suspect works for sale by at least 10 high-profile artists.
The news comes as Arthouse removed key contact information and links to catalogues from its website. Managing director and national head of art Giovanna Fragomeli told The Australian she was on leave, which was why phone contact details were removed. Both she and national auctioneer Avdo Tabakovic have defended their company’s business practices.
Former National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award winner Barbara Moore gave a statement to South Australian police last year, after two paintings she has admitted to signing that were not hers turned up for sale at an Arthouse Auctions event in Brisbane.
Lawyers acting for Ms Moore told Arthouse the paintings were allegedly not authentic, but the canvases were withdrawn only after Queensland police became involved on the day of the sale, according to correspondence obtained by The Australian.
Sabine Haider, president of the Australian Indigenous Art Trade Association, complained to NT police after her members raised concerns that led to 48 “very likely misattributed” lots being identified, most of which were sold.
The Australian has been told NT and NSW police are investigating. Complaints have also been made to the ACCC and the IAC.
An ACCC spokesman said: “Generally speaking, Australian consumer law prohibits businesses from making false, misleading or deceptive representations. Concerns may arise where consumers are misled into error …”
Ms Fragomeli told The Australian: “The fact that you know about the ACCC proves that you are being paid by and are in connection with competitors in this field who are the only ones complaining.”
Dealers shed fake-art claims
THE AUSTRALIAN, MAY 28, 2015
Two dealers behind an auction house accused of selling fake, mass-produced and “very likely misattributed” art, including works by top Aboriginal painters, have started a new business stripped of references to themselves and their other companies.
According to company records, OzBid Auctions, a company registered this year with just $1 in equity, is jointly owned by Avdo Tabakovic and his partner Giovanna Fragomeli.
The couple also owns Arthouse Auctions, which has been accused of selling almost $100,000 worth of fake or misattributed art by at least 10 top Aboriginal painters. Those allegations have been denied on behalf of the company.
Online records show Arthouse reaped more than $2.3 million last year from “pop-up” sales.
This month The Australian revealed details of two canvases allegedly painted by Sydney-based artist Tanya Weaver that were auctioned in 2011 with authenticity certificates purportedly signed by Mr Tabakovic and Ms Fragomeli attributing the works to Aboriginal artist Lena Pula Pwerle.
Ms Fragomeli, on behalf of the couple, has denied wrongdoing in relation to the paintings.
Dealer Paul Auckett and street artists Rone, Adnate and Justin Feuerring have accused Mr Tabakovic of using invented names to market mass-produced works alongside genuine art.
Ms Fragomeli has acknow¬ledged procuring art from “lesser¬-known” painters, but said this was common practice. She has defended Arthouse’s “100 per cent guarantee of authenticity,” but declined to provide proof of authenticity she claims to have.
Company records show OzBid was registered on February 27 with $1 equity. It has one director, Mr Tabakovic, and shares a business address with Lily Group, which owns the Arthouse Auctions trading name. Company records show OzBid and Lily Group are jointly owned by Mr Tabakovic and Ms Fragomeli.
Ms Fragomeli initially denied ownership of OzBid when approac¬hed for comment about the firm. She also denied Arthouse had ceased trading. An online auction portal used regularly by Arthouse for several years has recorded no sales since March.
A post appeared briefly on Arthouse’s website last month saying: “Bye Bye Arthouse Auctions and HELLO OzBid Auctions.” “OzBid Auctions will continue to source gallery-quality art at affordable prices for our customers,“ the post said.
Whereas Arthouse’s website spruiked the bona fides of its owners and their links to other art businesses, OzBid’s site gives no information about its founders. Mr Tabakovic and Ms Fragomeli also run a gallery, Mimi Gallery, from which Arthouse sourced stock; an art wholesale business, Australian Dreamtime Art; and a proprietary Indigenous Art Alli¬ance, used prominently after Arthouse withdrew from the Indigenous Art Code in October.