The bizarre story that started back in 2016 just won’t leave David Farrier alone. The saga now includes the courts, the police and a very stylish velvet suit.
That four-part series focussed on an Auckland antiques store that had turned its attention from relics to car clamping.
It was a strange pivot for the business, and an even stranger story. One that included stolen yachts, fake lawyers, and an alleged prince named Michael Organe-Schirinksi.
The store’s clamping antics created a media firestorm, and earlier this year parliament heard the first reading of legislation that would cap clamping fees at $100, significantly less than Bashford Antique’s record-breaking $760.
My final piece was entitled The clamps fall silent: a eulogy for Bashford Antiques, and included a photo of me at my old flat with the remnants of Bashford Antiques’ signage, left disposed on the forecourt after they’d moved out.
Except it wasn’t my final piece, as I found out when I got a phone-call from the police. My eulogy had come too soon. Prince Organe was back from the dead.
I got the call six months after publishing it, as I was driving in busy London traffic, already quite stressed out.
It was Constable Michael Rouse from the Avondale police station. He’d had a Michael Organ in, claiming I had stolen signs from Bashford Antiques.
“Oh, those signs!” I said. Rouse asked if I could locate the signs. “Yes, I think I can,” I replied, very aware the old signs were shoved under the back of my house in Grey Lynn.
A week later and back in New Zealand, I went into the station. I was read my rights and asked to provide a statement.
I told Rouse I’d removed the forlorn signs after Bashford’s had moved out, the signs clearly left as rubbish. I was more than happy to return them if Organ desperately wanted them back, as they were taking up room under my flat. Rouse did me one better, and offered to pick them up himself in two days’ time.
The next day, I was lazing on the couch reading when a horrible little thought entered my mind.
“When did I last see those fucking signs?”
I always passed them sticking out from under the house whenever I went to use the downstairs dryer. So that had been… three days ago.
Oh God, I thought.
I went downstairs. The signs were nowhere to be found. Only a little scrap remained, mocking me.
I texted Constable Rouse: “Sorry to call on your day off. Guess what? The signs are gone.” I had zero proof of who had removed the signs. It could have been anybody. That said, I had my suspicions.
But despite me not being able to fulfil my promise of giving back some old dirty signs, the next day Rouse called to say the New Zealand Police would not be prosecuting me for theft.
He added that he’d rung Organ to tell him this, and that Organ hadn’t sounded particularly pleased. The official line used in the police report was, “Complainant advised that Police will not prosecute due to conflicting evidence suggesting the signs were left as rubbish.”
It was over.
Except it wasn’t. Roughly a month later, on October 15th, I got an email from the District Court. I was being summoned to the Disputes Tribunal.
Bashford Antiques wanted $2200 for the signs I’d failed to return due to their mysterious disappearance. I then got an amended letter saying they wanted a little bit more: $2820 + GST.
Unfortunately I was now living in Los Angeles. I replied saying as much, and got another email back from the court. They’d heard back from Bashford Antiques, who appeared unhappy I was not in New Zealand:
“Farrier may now indeed be in the USA, however we believe it unlikely that he holds the required work and/or business visa, as required under United States federal law”.
As an aside – and this is really weird – the last time I’d heard similar words were from the mouth of David D’Amato on a cold street in New York while making Tickled:
“You’re in this country on a tourist visa, by doing anything related to so called journalism, you’re in violation of the federal law here”.
What is it with convicted criminals like Organ and D’Amato lecturing me about United States federal law?
Anyway. D’Amato, Organ – the world is an odd place. The court in New Zealand wanted proof I was in Los Angeles:
I didn’t have a scanner (and was unsure what I would scan) so replied with a recent screengrab, where I’d posted a photo of me in America.
And with that, my hearing was delayed till I was due back in New Zealand for a bit in 2019. Which is now.
Before my hearing, I thought I’d ask the police for their notes from my case. I was curious about what Organ had told them all those months ago.
Back then, Organ had appeared to just take a stab in the dark, claiming that “The three signs are valued approx $6,000 – $10,000”.
He’d also managed to find my house which was… slightly creepy, and did nothing to disprove my entirely circumstantial suspicion about how the signs had managed to vanish.
Oh, and I’ve had my hearing at the Disputes Tribunal.
I don’t think I can report on what went on over those two hours, because we’re being called back in July. I can tell you that Organ did talk a lot. A lot. So much. Jesus Christ.
I can also report the Prince is currently rocking shades, some stylish facial hair, and what appears to be a velvet suit.
I never imagined taking those abandoned signs would lead to so much drama – but then, going on what I’ve discovered over the last three years, maybe I should have.
One does not simply walk into Bashford Antiques. There is a prince there who does not sleep.