TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — Local auctioneer David Hall, of Spencer, has been indicted in Tompkins County Court after he was accused of taking items on consignment valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars and not paying out the proceeds after auctions.
Hall was indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 29 on a charge of second-degree grand larceny. The charge stems from a complaint in 2018 that Hall stole about $227,000 from a man who consigned thousands of his late brother’s items to Freeville-based Worth Auctions and National Book Auctions, owned by Hall. Though there are records of the items selling at auctions throughout the spring and summer of 2017, Hall allegedly only ever paid out $50,000.
Hall, who is the owner and CEO of Worth Auctions, National Book Auctions, Bid Club, Inc. and JLF Holdings, has been named in several lawsuits over the past couple of years. In May, Hall was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution after defrauding more than 100 consumers since 2015 following a case prosecuted by the New York Attorney General’s Office. Last year, The Ithaca Voice spoke to several people who had consigned items to Hall, said they would watch their items sell online, but never received payment.
In the case now proceeding in Tompkins County Court, the claim is similar. According to court records, a man who was the executor of his late brother’s estate consigned hundreds of Civil War-era items with Hall through Worth Auctions and National Book Auctions. He said his brother, who was a resident of Oneida County, was a collector of all things related to the Civil War, including hundreds of books, and more than 150 antique muskets, pistols, sabers, paintings and prints. His brother described his residence as “jam-packed” with artifacts. The executor of the estate and complainant said he discovered his brother had purchased items from Hall before, so he reached out to him and Hall said he could liquidate the books and firearms.
The brother told police that he signed a contract with Hall and shortly after, the items were removed and multiple auctions took place. According to the contract, Worth Auctions and National Book Auctions were required to provide a settlement report and payment on the estate’s portion of the proceeds within 30 days of all the lots selling. Hall reportedly did give an update via email in May 2017 that the auctions were wrapping up and the final lots would be the next auction. He also said the gross sales were about $325,000. The man told police that despite repeated demands for accountings of the auctions sales after that, Hall did not provide them.
The man told police that his estate did receive a check for $50,000 from Worth Auctions and National Book Auctions in July 2017, accompanied by a letter that said they have set up a disbursement schedule and additional payments would be released on a bi-weekly basis. However, no further payments were ever made, according to court records, and there was no more contact from Hall.
In total, property sales including the books and other items came to about $389,000 and a total of about $277,000 was due to the estate. Of that, the brother and executor of the estate, said he only received the one $50,000 check.
Hall is due back in court for an arraignment Sept. 10.