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Arts and Entertainment

Pop art meets commerce
Pieces auctioned to re-pay investors

Kabir Bhatia
Durham, looking very Presidential in a painting from Peter Max.
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
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Embattled Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham's home must seem a little less cheery without his friends: Picasso and Peter Max. WKSU's Kabir Bhatia has more...

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U.S attorneys argue that Timothy Durham used Akron-based Fair Finance to channel tens of millions of dollars into his personal interests virtually from the day he bought the small consumer finance company in 2002.
And those interests included art … big art by big names.

Last month, Durham surrendered his extensive art collection for auction in an effort to recouping some of the $200 million lost by investors in his company.
By the time auctioneers had finished selling nearly 120 eye-searing paintings of everyone from the Rolling Stones to Mickey Mouse to Durham himself, the bankrupt company was 400 thousand dollars richer.

The sale, at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, included works from German pop artist Peter Max, -- mostly large psychedelic portraits -- with a few Picasso's and some sculptures of cars thrown in. The latter speaks to Durham’s passion for automobiles, and the FBI has already auctioned off his car collection for more than a quarter of a million dollars. The art collection was given over voluntarily, and despite featuring established names, the pre-show estimate of as much as 100 thousand dollars went out the window once bidding started.

Collector John Zoilo of Akron thinks he knows why.

Pete Comodeca of Cleveland is more sentimental.

Some pieces, such as a James Bond poster autographed by all 6 007's, sold for just one thousand dollars. Peter Max prints of Disney characters like Goofy barely cleared their estimates, selling for just a few hundred.

But an art dealer from Florida, who bid anonymously by phone, sent prices for several Bono and other Peter Max paintings through the roof. Not one sold for less than 6 thousand dollars, lending credence to collector Katie McLaughlin's opinion that bidders weren't there just to see a once-prominent businessman get his comeuppance.

Fair Finance opened in Akron in 1934. Offices in both Akron and Indianapolis closed nearly a year ago, when they were raided by the FBI.


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