Antiques up for sale after “green energy” company owned by controversial businessman falls into liquidation

A huge haul of antiques discovered in a farmhouse linked to a controversial businessman whose energy firm went bust owing around £8m is due to be auctioned.

The horde of more than 600 items includes 19th Century paintings, Chinese jade carvings and Georgian furniture.

They were found in a farmhouse on the Scottish borders which is linked to businessman Martin Frost, 73, who was recently declared bankrupt.

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Mr Frost was behind a firm called Avocet Infinite PLC which planned to convert cow dung into 'green diesel.' The scheme attracted millions of pounds in private cash to develop a revolutionary biofuel only for the manure conversion scheme to never reach the market.

Some of the 200 paintings that covered the walls of the farmhouse.

It's thought that investors may have handed-over a total of £8 million to the failed business venture since it was set up in 2014.

But after the businessman's idea floundered, debt collectors found a farmhouse on the Scottish borders packed with art and antiques, which will now go on sale.

Within the exquisite collection, there are ancient jade carvings, 19th-century paintings and furniture dating back to George III.

Paul Cooper, a director of auctioneers Eddisons, in Scunthorpe, who will put more than 638 lots under the hammer said it was an "extraordinary" find.

Paul Cooper with some of the reproductions of historic helmets that adorned the walls

He said: "The place was quite extraordinary, absolutely rammed with stuff.

"There were so many pictures that you could hardly see the wallpaper.

"Every room was crammed with furniture, some antique, some not so antique.

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The New Toy by Robert Gemmel Hutchison (1855-1936).
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"On top of that, there were Oriental ceramics, books, militaria and collectables of every description, everywhere."

Among the art and antiques, Mr Cooper said that the picture section was particularly exceptional and featured work from a number of Scottish artists including "six watercolours by the Berwick-born marine artist, and Royal Family favourite, Frank Watson Wood."

Mr Cooper said the book, furniture and ceramics sections also had several priceless pieces, including items that originated from China.

He said: "There are more than two dozen lots ranging from vases and urns to chargers, plates and decorative pots."

"The farmhouse also yielded well over 2,000 books including numerous rare and collectable volumes that are being sold individually."

He added: "The furniture ranges from George III right the way through to IKEA.

"There are some particularly fine early-19 century pieces that were bought at considerable cost from well-known Edinburgh antiques emporiums.

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The art and antiques hoard has been removed from Harcase Hill, a Victorian farmhouse set in eight acres near the Scottish Borders village of Swinton.

When Frost's main company, Avocet Infinite PLC, went under, he transferred his client's share to a new firm, Omega Infinte PLC, which then went into liquidation in March 2020.

It's understood that investors in the business include both the family of the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Reese-Mogg, and ex-Labour MP John Prescott.

But they also included several Scottish farmers, who made small investments.

At a scheduled AGM meeting in late September, which Frost later pulled out of, the failed mogul was expected to offer angry investors 1p per share for each £1 they put into the business.

Later, it was announced that Frost, from Scarborough, had been made personally bankrupt at a Leeds Court hearing in October.