Bidding war for Lehman souvenirs at London auction
A sale of signs and artworks which adorned the walls of collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers started with a bang Wednesday as the first lots sold for way over their estimated prices.
A metal Lehman Brothers sign which hung outside its European headquarters in London sold for 42,050 pounds (50,000 euros, 67,000 dollars) to an anonymous telephone bidder, prompting gasps in the sale room at Christie's in London.
The price, which included the buyers' premium, was around 12 times its estimate of 3,000 pounds and came after a bidding war with an Internet bidder from China.
Another sign commemorating Britain's former prime minister Gordon Brown opening the building when he was finance minister in 2004 fetched 28,750 pounds with buyers' premium, way above its estimated price of up to 1,500 pounds.
Lehman collapsed in 2008, a key event in the global financial turmoil which reached its peak that year.
The auction of some 300 items was ordered by administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) who hope to raise around two million pounds for creditors.
But however much the sale raises, it will make only a tiny dent in the more than 600 billion dollars which Lehman owes.
Another sale of items from Lehman's US operation raised over 12 million dollars at Sotheby's in New York Saturday.
In London, many of those in the sale room were former Lehman employees looking for a souvenir of their time at the bank.
"I was an employee for eight-and-a-half years, I was there at the end," one man, who did not want to give his name but was smartly dressed in a dark suit, told AFP.
He said he was at the sale to bid for "a memory" and had seen several former colleagues there.
"It was a sad end to it all but I had a lot of good times there, it was where I started off my career," he added.
Other lots include paintings by artists including Lucian Freud and Anthony Gormley, sets of leather-bound books of Shakespeare and Charles Dickens and contemporary photographs.
© 2010 AFP