Fair Finance artwork fetches more than $400,000 at auction

October 17, 2010

CLEVELAND—Saturday's art auction of work collected by Fair Finance co-owner Timothy Durham raised more than $400,000 — well above what the Akron company's bankruptcy trustee and even the auctioneer thought would be brought in.

A huge chunk of change was dropped by anonymous Bidder 78, who spent more than $267,000 via telephone bids on numerous works by contemporary artist Peter Max, prints by Picasso and other pieces. The bidder declined to be identified, other than to say he owns an art gallery in Florida and does business in England.

Net proceeds from the auction — which lasted more than three hours at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland — will go into the estate of Fair Finance for eventual distribution to thousands of creditors.

The amount, while exceeding expectations, is a drop in the bucket compared with the more than $200 million that an estimated 5,300 Ohio residents had invested in the company, which is under investigation. In a court filing late last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis alleged Durham was operating a Ponzi scheme, using money from the sale of new investment certificates to pay off prior purchasers, but no chages have been filed.

Durham, the chief executive of movie firm National Lampoon Inc. who bought Fair Finance in 2002 with Indianapolis business partner James Cochran, turned over the art collection for the auction. The FBI, meanwhile, in the summer seized Durham's motor vehicle collection, which the bankruptcy trustee is also in the process of selling.

For the full Akron Beacon Journal story on the Durham art auction, click here.


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