3 On Your Side

Abrupt closure of Phoenix auction house puzzles customers

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American Auctions had been in business for 20 years and had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. (Source: 3TV) American Auctions had been in business for 20 years and had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. (Source: 3TV)
Jackie Caradine showed up pictures of some of the item she handed over the the auction house. She believes they were worth at least $50,000. (Source: 3TV) Jackie Caradine showed up pictures of some of the item she handed over the the auction house. She believes they were worth at least $50,000. (Source: 3TV)
When Gary Harper went to the South Phoenix location, it was closed. (Source: 3TV) When Gary Harper went to the South Phoenix location, it was closed. (Source: 3TV)
A search of public records showed American Auctions and its CEO had been slapped with a $50 million judgment. The company is now in receivership. (Source: 3TV) A search of public records showed American Auctions and its CEO had been slapped with a $50 million judgment. The company is now in receivership. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Jackie Caradine has a passion for antiques. One look inside her small home, and that's obvious. You never know what you might find.

"This is an old Coca-Cola plane I've had for awhile," she said as she gave us a tour of her cramped motor home.

Caradine said she recently found herself in a financial bind and decided to sell some of her collection to make some money. That in mind, she started researching auction houses.

"I got on the Internet, and I looked up the auction company themselves," she said.

One place she came across -- and liked -- was American Auction located in south Phoenix. It's been around for 20 years and even has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

After speaking to an American Auction representative, Caradine says she agreed to let American Auction come to her house to pick up what turned out to be a truck full of her antiques. The pieces were worth a lot of money.  

Caradine has photographs of many of the items that the auction company took.

I asked her if she thought she would get $10,000 for her antiques.

"No!  Much more than that," she answered. "I think $50,000. At least."

A few weeks later, she tried contacting American Auction to see if it sold any items and to check out how much money she may have made.  But, she got bad news.

"Oh yes, I called, and I called, and I called, and I called and called," Caradine said. Nobody ever picked up the phone.

3 On Your Side got involved and what we discovered wasn't good.

For instance, the company's website posts a notice indicating American Auction is under receivership as ordered by a judge.

When I went to American Auction to ask questions, the business was locked up and shut down. Caradine said it's very upsetting.

"I don't even want to think about it," she said.

3 On Your Side discovered that American Auction's founder and CEO is a woman by the name of Deb Weidenhamer.

I was hoping she might be able to shed some light on what happened to her auction house and Caradine's prized possessions. But when I went to her Moon Valley home, nobody ever came to the door. My inquiries went unanswered.

After researching public records, 3 On Your Side learned that just last month, right around the time Caradine handed over her antiques to American Auction, both the business and Weidenhamer had been sued. A judgment for more than $50 million was issued against them.

Unfortunately, much of the mammoth judgment is sealed, so details surrounding it are unknown.

Caradine says it's a shame knowing her valuable antiques are gone with no explanation.

She also wonders how many other people gave their items to American Auction and are in the same position.

I asked her if she would ever deal with an auction house again.

"Absolutely not," she replied.  

3 On Your Side is still actively working on finding out what can be done about retrieving items for consumers like Caradine.

When there's an update, 3 On Your Side will let you know.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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