Top 10 Items Sold at Financial Fraudsters’ Auctions
Corporate bankruptcies are no fun for the main parties involved. But in some of the more spectacular bankruptcies in U.S. corporate history (think Enron and Lehman Brothers), the ensuing auctions of assets are not only an effort to partially repay creditors, they also provide great opportunities for auction hunters to get some unique items on the cheap. Not to mention, these auctions make for great fodder for financial writers.
For better or worse, there have been enough of these auctions to provide enough data to compile a Trader Daily list of the most interesting items sold at these events.
1) Gimme an “E”
One of the now infamous E’s found outside of Enron’s corporate headquarters in Houston was sold at a bankruptcy auction in September 2002 for $44,000. The E didn’t go far. It was bought by someone in Houston, as CNN reported then.
2) Lay’s Ride
Remember when Dynegy was in talks to buy Enron when the latter was on the brink of bankruptcy? The late Ken Lay, former Enron chairman and chief executive officer, was ushered to and from meetings with Dynegy in a shiny black Lincoln Navigator, which was also sold at auction in 2002.
3) Home Sweet Home
Former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski was known for lavish spending habits and grandiose parties, two traits that were contributing factors to his company’s downfall and some jail time to boot. Last year, a property formerly owned by Kozlowski on the Hamptons was sold for $4.2 million. Whoever bought it got a steal. Town records showed the assessed value was $9.4 million, according to Seacoast Online.
4) Gross, Really Gross
The U.S. Marshals held an auction of Bernie Madoff’s stuff in Miami last weekend, and someone paid $200 for 14 pairs of the fraudster’s underwear and $4,600 for a picture of his uncovered tush, according to WPBF, an ABC affiliate in Florida. Seriously.
5) Bernie’s Booze
At a more tasteful Madoff auction in New York last month, bidders had the chance to scoop up Bernie’s liquor, including a case of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, a Bordeaux from 1996, valued at more than $3,000, CBS reported.
6) Bernie’s Bling
When one swindles investors out of as much cash as Madoff did, one acquires some pretty swanky possessions. In November, someone dropped $550,000 on Ruth Madoff’s engagement ring, Reuters reported. No word on whether there is a lucky gal out there wearing it today.
7) Did Steven Cohen Buy One?
In 2006, Sotheby’s put two paintings from the 1880s by Renoir and Monet on the auction block that were formerly owned by Kozlowski, according to Bloomberg.
8) More Art
Lehman Brothers auctioned off 450 works of art last year following its spectacular fall from grace during the financial crisis. Some were pretty fancy, but the whole collection was expected to raise only $10 million for the fallen bank, a mere pittance compared to its $400 billion financial obligations at the time, Art Info reported.
9) Sign of the Times
Did you ever steal a street sign as a prank in high school or college? If you did, an auction in London last year would have been for you. There, you could have bid on the Lehman Brothers sign from the bank’s Canary Wharf office.
10) For the Aviation Enthusiast
Primaris Airlines may not have been a household name in the airline business, but the company went bankrupt. The subsequent auction didn’t offer up any black boxes, but bidders could have gotten their hands on real pilot uniforms, and those always make for interesting conversation starters.
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