Special Presentation:  The LALB Corruption Train Rolls Right on Down the Track

"New Orleans Auction Galleries" Saga

LALB Chairman Tessa Steinkamp Employed by NOAG
(as Vice President, Director, Treasurer, and Secretary Until March 20, 2011,
12 days before bankruptcy filing -- she was rehired soon after the filing).


Date (Timeframe) and Event:

Explanation and/or Commentary:



April 1, 2011 - N. O. A. G. files bankruptcy

Assets = $225,000 (mostly worthless receivable from NOAG - St. Charles).  Liabilities = $5.168 million, including 52 unpaid consignors totaling $562,334.17.
Largest creditors:

Susan Krohn, Houston philanthropist (relocated from N. O. after Katrina), $2 million.
M. S. Rau Antiques (not even listed - guaranteed and paid NOAG's FBT promissory note):  $1.25 million.

Mid to Late April, 2011

Eric Aschaffenburg, CPA and prominent New Orleans business owner residing in MS, agrees to provide DIP financing for approximately $500,000.  Proceeds used to pay off unpaid consignors referenced above.

July 7, 2011

LALB attorney Anna Dow sends Ms. Sarah Olcott, head of Boards and Commissions, an email blatantly falsely claiming that Tessa Steinkamp, LALB Chairman, was never employed by NOAG.  Reality:  On page 7 of NOAG Initial Bankruptcy Financial Statement Filing, Steinkamp listed as:  "Vice-President, Director, Treasurer, and Secretary of NOAG right up to March 20, 2011 (12 days before bankruptcy filing)."  Also, Dow consistently portrays to the Board ONLY the pleadings of NOAG and never references other parties' pleadings which are adverse to NOAG.  Furthermore, Ms. Dow seems to go out of way to stress that Ms. Steinkamp was (prior to 2011) employed by NOAG - St. Charles and stress it's a "separate legal entity" as if St. Charles, which was closed, had no problems, when NOAG file documentation clearly indicates otherwise.

July 18, 2011

LALB member Rev. Freddie Phillips requests new Vice Chair election due to NOAG / Steinkamp issues.  He is immediately shut down by Steinkamp and threatened with action against his license per auction Statute 3121.  Video:  Steinkamp shuts down Phillips and threatens action against license.  Further, when Rev. Phillips makes reference to a "Los Angeles lawsuit," Ms. Steinkamp volunteers that she's familiar with what he references and that it's "not relevant."  No doubt Mr. Massoud Pouratian (see "Late October, 2011 Itemization # 4 below) would disagree, as would Ms. Steinkamp likely feel it was "relevant" if it had been her $114,000 flushed down the toilet on fake paintings.  If Ms. Steinkamp knew about this issue (as she says she did) and it happened in 2008, why did she never advise the LALB of it?  Further, why did Jean Vidos, NOAG owner, consistently check the box indicating no lawsuits were pending against her business operations?

July 18, 2011

LALB Attorney Dow explains NOAG to emerge from bankruptcy in no time flat with either Mr. Aschaffenburg as stalking-horse bidder or some other bidder.  Despite LALB member Rev. Phillips pressing for "who will be responsible" for a newly-issued company license, he is given no answer other than "the bankruptcy court." Ms. Dow relays the license will be issued and stay under JEAN VIDOS until bankruptcy emergence.  Video:  Bankruptcy court deemed responsible party for new license.

Late October, 2011 

All parties involved begin infighting, to include:

1.  NOAG to Krohn:  "Not sure we owe you a dime and may seek $155,000 preferential payment clawback."  Interesting contention given that Ms. Vidos, as pointed out by newly-appointed attorney for the unsecured creditors' committee, Douglas Draper, gave sworn testimony early on in bankruptcy proceeding that NOAG did in fact owe Susan Krohn $2 million.  Also, common sense question:  "Why would you be paying someone whom you later assert you owe nothing?"

2.  Aschaffenburg, CPA, performs numerous hours of work making accounting recommendations for which the bankruptcy court denies his claim for compensation.  NOAG indicates it will hire forensic accountant to try to sort through some issues.  Aschaffenburg apparently loses interest in the stalking-horse aspect of the bidding process (the conditions under which entailed a minimum $1.4 million known opening minimum bid) and instead opts to be a part of a more open bidding process in which he's not the up-front known initial bidder at a $1.4 million floor to begin the bidding.  NOAG repays $135,000 of Mr. Aschaffenburg's DIP financing loan.

3.  Adversarial proceeding initiated by NOAG against Krohn with Vidos accusing Ms. Krohn in a sworn affidavit of having told NOAG clients, "I have acquired NOAG and Vidos is about to be indicted by a grand jury."  Krohn responds by subpoenaing Vidos' personal bank records.

4.  Several disgruntled bidders who find fault with merchandise received which was auctioned by NOAG, namely Danny Pun and Massoud Pouratian, join with Krohn in forming an Unsecured Creditor's Committee (UCC) with Douglas Draper retained for counsel.  Makeup of UCC as of 3/27/12:  Pun, Pouratian, M. S. Rau, Susan Krohn, and First Bank & Trust (FBT).  Mr. Pouratian's proof of claim pertained to a lawsuit filed against NOAG filed in Los Angeles entailing a 2008 purchase of allegedly fake paintings for which he bid $114,000.  CLICK HERE for details on the Massound Pouratian claim.  Similarly, Mr. Pun's proof of claims entailed two items bid on at NOAG's January, 2011 auction (its last before filing bankruptcy).  Mr. Pun bid $79,950 for a supposed authentic "chicken blood stone seal."  He also bid $48,330 for a supposed authentic "Chinese table screen."  Both items were, according to Mr. Pun, ascertained to be total fakes.  CLICK HERE for details on the Danny Pun claim.  Feel free to also CLICK HERE for the actual complaint filed with the LALB by Danny Pun.  Mr. Pun was clearly not alone regarding falsely-represented merchandise in the final days of NOAG pre-bankruptcy.  To evidence same, one need only review this complain dated January 7, 2011 (right before the FINAL NOAG auction before bankruptcy).

November 15, 2011

LALB meeting held.  Dow continues to tip-toe around NOAG & Vidos issues.  Video:  NOAG "Status report."  Burns (@ 9:26 mark of preceding video link):  "If Board may not renew Vidos' 2012 license, would you hold emergency LALB meeting to discuss?"  Dow shrugs shoulders.  More details 3 entries down. 

Late November, 2011

Bankruptcy judge postpones auction of NOAG due to NOAG's expectation of December auctions yielding "significant revenues with which to pay creditors."  Krohn objects vehemently.  M. S. Rau basically says, "Can't be any worse off than we are right now, so postponement all right by us."

Late November, 2011

Middle District of LA bankruptcy judge Dodd appointed as mediator to try and reach some mutual ground regarding issues raised in late October and enumerated above.  Dodd subsequently reports no substantive progress through mediation; however, on April 3, 2012 (see entry below), NOAG & Krohn propose settlement wherein Krohn to be permitted a $1.725 million discounted unsecured claim against the estate and all parties drop adversarial proceedings.  The settlement was subsequently approved by the bankruptcy court.

Late November to Late December, 2011

LALB attorney Anna Dow makes apparent recommendation for the LALB to NOT renew Vidos' 2012 license.  See entry for March 29, 2012 below.

January 26, 2012

Harris Dulitz, attorney for Sidney Lambert, files into the bankruptcy record the fact that Nationwide Credit is pursuing his client, Mr. Lambert, for charges on a NOAG Chase credit card from June 9, 2000 forward, which was the date Mr. Lambert's employment was terminated by NOAG.  Dulitz asserts that, to the extent that card continued to be used while issued in his name, such use by NOAG officials was "fraudulent," and that Mr. Lambert urged Chase to launch an "immediate criminal investigation into who all at NOAG has fraudulently used that card without his consent." 

Late March, 2012

UCC attorney Douglas Draper questions payments made to Southern Electronics in the immediate timeframe prior to bankruptcy.  Stewart Peck, NOAG bankruptcy attorney, responds that, "We're looking into it but any litigation claim against Southern would be protracted and not affect cash available to exit bankruptcy."

March 19, 2012

LALB meeting held.  New LALB Member Darlene Jacobs Levy relays, "paying company expenses out of escrow is serious!"  Ms. Jacobs also expresses extreme reluctance to have a corporate license issued with no person held accountable.  Chairman Steinkamp was quite adamant that the mere use of an electrical outlet to videotape the day's proceedings was unacceptable.  Video:  Steinkamp shuts down videotaping of LALB meeting.  The day's meeting included a "Vidos stipulation" (CLICK HERE for a copy of the proposed stipulation) on which the Board took no action but instead opted to inform Ms. Vidos that she would be summoned to the Board for a hearing at some unknown later date.  Audio of LALB's Vidos stipulation discussion:  Audio of Vidos Stipulation Dow:   "The Board opted not to renew Ms. Vidos' auction license for 2012." (10:05 mark of audio).  Robert Burns:  "If Ms. Vidos' license not renewed, then how did NOAG conduct a March, 2012 auction?"  Dow's response:    "Via NOAG's company license."  [Note:  7/18/11 video link above has Dow stating, "Responsible party for new company license is Jean Vidos."]  New Board Member Darlene Jacobs Levy expresses concern about company license issued with no party accountable.

March 29, 2012

LAPA Vice President Burns is informed that CONSUMER MEMBER Greg Bordelon was the ONLY Board Member to authorize the nonrenewal of Vidos' 2012 license.  LALB supplies this excerpt of the June 20, 2011 LALB minutes purporting to give him such wide authority.   So, a SINGLE member of the LALB who is NOT even an auctioneer purportedly has the authority to act unilaterally to DENY Ms. Vidos' 2012 license renewal!!  Further, there is no notation of this action having been even so much as acknowledged in any minutes of the LALB.  If a decision was made (or even contemplated) to not renew Ms. Vidos' license, the Board had the prerogative to call an emergency meeting as referenced on an entry on 11/15/11 above.  That's what SHOULD have happened rather than a SINGLE Member apparently saying, "Let's don't renew her."

April 3, 2012

As relayed above, Krohn & NOAG propose compromise to adversarial claims wherein Krohn to receive unsecured claim against estate for $1.725 million.  The proposed compromise was approved by the bankruptcy court.

Late July, 2012

Postponed auction of NOAG (see late November, 2011 entry above) transpires with Susan Krohn emerging as the high bidder at $1.3 million.

September 17, 2012

Although nearly 18 months transpired since all of NOAG's problems surfaced, the LALB's TOP priority was scheduling a so-called "hearing" entailing Robert Burns and the fact that, of the approximate nine-minute excerpt from the LALB meeting on 11/15/11 (NOAG "Status report."), he stated in that video that a motion by Stewart Peck (bankruptcy attorney for NOAG) to disband the UCC had been denied when, in reality, is was an ex-parte motion for an expedited hearing which had actually been denied.  The motion itself to disband the UCC was in fact denied on April 3, 2012.  Thus, the one technical inaccuracy Burns made in the 11/15/11 turned out to ultimately be what happened anyway.  So, all the corrupt activities outlined above notwithstanding, and all of which entail absolute reckless auction operations (auctioning off fake merchandise for hundreds of thousands of dollars, over $500,000 in unpaid consignors with company operating expenses being paid out of consignor escrow) by the firm employing the LALB Chairman, Tessa Steinkamp (and for which, up to 11 days prior to bankruptcy, Ms. Steinkamp was listed as "Vice-President, Director, Treasurer, and Secretary of NOAG), and the LALB's TOP priority is scheduling a "hearing" for Burns!!  Other material covered in this "hearing" entailed Burns' concern regarding the LALB's payroll setup as well as its attorney, Anna Dow, holding the dual capacities of general counsel and prosecuting attorney.  CLICK HERE to choose any video you'd care to watch of the LALB's priority of scheduling a "hearing" entailing Robert Burns with STILL NOTHING EVER being done regarding all the auction transgressions at NOAG.  Also, if anyone thinks the NOAG situation was only a recent phenomenon, CLICK HERE to see past complaints entailing a pattern of business conduct.



Yep........the LALB corruption train keeps rolling full-steam ahead.  We'll keep you posted on other corrupt LALB practices as they unfold.