Car nut Tim Durham's 1929 Duesenberg, once driven by Elvis Presley in a movie, sold for $1,125,000.
Durham's 1929 Auburn Speedster went for a cool $250,000.
Then there was a 1987 Fiat sports car that went for just $3,250 and a '52 Chevy for $9,000.
But once the gavel banging ended, more than 20 collectible and antique cars that once belonged to the co-owner of bankrupt Fair Finance Co. sold for more than $2.2 million as part of a two-day auction that ended Friday in Phoenix, Ariz.
The estate of Akron-based Fair Finance could end up with a bit more than $1 million of that total once the checks clear and auction-related expenses are paid. A bank holds a $1 million lien on the Duesenberg, meaning it gets paid first with anything left over going to Fair Finance.
Overall, the sale of Durham's cars — seized last year by the FBI and given over to the Fair Finance trustee — brought in more money than the initial estimated values provided by auctioneer RM Auctions.
Still, creditors, largely made up of an estimated 5,300 holders of Fair Finance investment certificates, should not expect to receive a distribution from the sale of the cars, said Kelly Burgan, legal counsel to trustee Brian Bash. The money likely will be used to fund the case, including reimbursing the professionals who have been working on the bankruptcy since Fair Finance was forced into filing Chapter 7 in February 2010.
''No professionals have submitted fee applications. No administrative costs have been paid,'' Burgan said.
A million dollars in car-auction proceeds, if distributed, would not amount to much for the Ohio residents and organizations who paid more than $200 million for Fair Finance's uninsured investment certificates, Burgan said. By way of example, someone who had bought $100,000 in investment certificates would get at most $500, she said.
Under federal bankruptcy proceedings, professionals such as lawyers working on the case are the first in line to be paid, followed by secured creditors and then unsecured creditors. Fair Finance investment-certificate holders are considered unsecured creditors.
Burgan said Bash is still in the early stages of filing lawsuits staking claims on assets that can be distributed to certificate holders.
''I've been living and breathing this case. I've been working on it almost full time since it was filed,'' Burgan said. Finding and distributing significant sums of money to the certificate holders ''would make me so happy,'' she said.
Indiana businessmen Durham and James Cochran in 2002 bought Fair Finance, a consumer loan and accounts receivables firm, from the Fair family that had owned it since 1934. Following FBI raids Nov. 24,
2009, on Fair Finance's Akron headquarters and a related business in Indianapolis, federal investigators said they suspected the company was being run as a Ponzi scheme. No one has been arrested or charged.
Fair Finance never reopened following the raids, with its trustee, Bash, saying in subsequent court records the company was ''utterly looted'' by insider loans after Durham and Cochran bought it.
Burgan was cautious about how much money the Fair Finance estate will end up with after the Arizona auction.
The trustee last October in Cleveland auctioned off Durham's art collection. An art dealer from Florida who successfully bid on pieces totaling more than $260,000 subsequently said he canceled the sales and refused to pay. The trustee is now suing the dealer for the money.
''It ain't over till it's over and the money's in your hand,'' Burgan said. ''After the art experience, I'm definitely tempering my enthusiasm.''
RM Auctions estimated the value of Durham's Duesenberg at between $1 million and $1.3 million. The 1929 Auburn Speedster that sold for $250,000 was given an initial value ranging between $120,000 and $160,000.
A 2007 Speedsters Motorcars GW coupe replica — a modern knockoff of highly desirable 1950s Mercedes ''gull-wing'' cars — was initially valued at between $24,000 and $32,000. Bidders pushed the price up to $90,000. (An original Mercedes 1955 gull-wing car sold for $1.25 million at the auction.)
Other Durham-owned replicas also went for high prices. A 2006 Speedster Scrape, a replica of a hot-rod 1939 Lincoln Zephyr, was valued at no more than $24,000 and sold for $32,500. Two replicas of old Auburn Speedsters, valued at $24,000 each, sold for $57,500 and $52,500.
RM Auctions said it expects to post final prices early next week on its website for all of the vehicles sold at the Phoenix event. The web address is http://www.rmauctions.com.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.