Fair Finance Co. creditors should hope for a doozy — make that ''Duesy'' — of a car auction Friday in Arizona.
The bulk of Fair Finance co-owner Timothy Durham's automobile collection is scheduled to be sold at a prestigious annual car collector event in Phoenix, with proceeds going to the defunct Akron company's estate. Friday's auction starts at 1 p.m. Eastern time, or 11 a.m. in Phoenix.
The prize jewel: A 1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton, once driven by Elvis Presley in the 1966 movie Spinout, that could bring in between $1 million and $1.3 million, according to formal estimates given in the auction catalog.
There's one problem. A bank already has an estimated $1 million lien on the historic, made-in-Indiana luxury car. The auction catalog describes the vehicle as ''offered for sale by a secured creditor; formerly part of the Tim Durham Collection.'' That means the bank gets its money first, up to the lien amount.
''We'll [Fair Finance] get the excess,'' said Kelly Burgan, legal counsel for Fair Finance trustee Brian Bash.
The FBI seized Durham's cars last year and turned them over to the trustee. Proceeds from the auction that go into the bankruptcy estate likely will be the proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the more than $200 million owed to some 5,300 people and organizations, largely in Northeast Ohio, who bought investment certificates from Fair Finance.
The company was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy nearly a year ago after FBI raids on its Akron headquarters and a related business in Indianapolis on Nov. 24, 2009. Federal investigators say they suspect Fair Finance was being operated as a Ponzi scheme after it was sold in 2002 to Indiana businessman Durham and his partner, James Cochran. No one has been arrested or charged.
The Arizona event in the Arizona Biltmore Resort, sponsored by Ontario, Canada, auctioneer RM Auctions, started Thursday night with a program featuring British cars. It's the 12th auction in Phoeniz organized by RM Auctions; the event kicks off the sales season for the company.
All told, more than 180 primarily high-end collectible and historic vehicles are expected to be sold, including the Durham cars, said RM Auctions spokeswoman Amy Christie.
The global market for high-end car sales of this type has been improving, she said. RM Auctions had its most successful year ever in 2010, with a ''vibrant forecast'' for this year, she said. Last year's Arizona auction attracted bidders from 19 countries.
There's been a lot of interest in the Arizona auction, Christie said. People may bid in person, online, over the phone or by absentee, she said.
RM Auctions will offer live video streaming of the auction through its website, http://www.rmauctions.com, she said.
In addition to the Duesenberg, the Durham collection includes:
— A 1929 Auburn 8-90 Speedster; estimated sales price at $120,000 to $160,000;
— A 1964 Rolls-Royce silver Cloud III; $20,000 to $40,000.
— A 2004 Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale Coupe; $50,000 to $75,000;
— A 2002 Lamborghini Murcielago; $110,000 to $130,000;
— A 2003 Aston Martin Vanquish; $50,000 to $75,000;
— A 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur; $60,000 to $80,000;
— A 2003 Lotus Esprit Turbo V8; $25,000 to $45,000;
— A 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 Roadster; $20,000 to $25,000;
— A 1952 Chevrolet Skyline Deluxe two-door sedan that appeared in the movie Hoosiers; $10,000 to $15,000;
— Other assorted vehicles, including two SUVs, sports cars and replicas of historic vehicles.
The trustee earlier sold two other Durham cars, an Aston Martin and a Ford GT, bringing in $250,000.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.