One of country's most well-known auction houses is being urgently assessed by Australian administrators, who say they will be "exploring all options" for the business.

It follows the Australian owner of Mossgreen-Webb's being put into voluntary administration just before Christmas.

Melbourne-headquartered Mossgreen, which bought Webb's auction house in Parnell in 2015, owes A$12 million ($13.1m) to 400 creditors.

Administrators, James White, Andrew Sallway and Nicholas Martin of BDO in Australia, say that Mossgreen's assets amount to about A$3m and that they do not yet have details of any New Zealand creditors.


They expect to have more information this week.

Mossgreen's chief executive Paul Sumner told the Herald late last year that the voluntary administration would not impact the New Zealand business.

The administrators have since said in a statement that they "are undertaking an urgent assessment of Mossgreen NZ Limited and will be exploring all options".

Mossgreen NZ trades as Webb's, according to the Companies Register.

When purchasing Webb's, Sumner described Mossgreen as "Australia's largest and highest-grossing auction house and the most favoured avenue for collectors when they are selling complete collections".

"Since acquiring the former Webb's auction house in New Zealand, the company is now run as a transtasman regional business," Mossgreen-Webb's website says.

Mossgreen in Australia was put into voluntary administration on December 21, according to a public notice.

Voluntary administration, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), is a process "designed to resolve a company's future direction quickly".


"An independent and suitably qualified person (the voluntary administrator) takes full control of the company to try to work out a way to save either the company or its business," ASIC says on its website.

Sumner said in a statement to clients and other stakeholders last year that "Mossgreen has chosen to take a path of voluntary administration during the month of January at a time that will least impact our clients and which will allow the company to restructure its business".

Set up in the 1970s, Webb's has exhibited some of the country's most well-known artists, including works by Colin McCahon and Gottfried Lindauer.