Stanford Art Collection Nets $2.9 Million for Ponzi Victims

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 | 3:09 PM ET
A print from the 1983 collection of ten prints entitled "Endangered Species"
Source: Heritage Auctions
A print from the 1983 collection of ten prints entitled "Endangered Species"

Former billionaire Allen Stanford, convicted last year of running one of the biggest investment frauds in history, had particularly expensive tastes in art.

Wednesday in Dallas, an auction of some of his most prized possessions brought in just over $2.9 million. The proceeds are to be turned over to victims of the $7 billion scam, who thus far have recovered next to nothing.

(Read More: Allen Stanford: Descent from Billionaire to Inmate # 35017-183)

Stanford's art collection consisted mostly of modern and contemporary works from the likes of Picasso, Dali and Miro. The top prices went to two collections of prints by Andy Warhol. A 1983 collection of ten prints entitled "Endangered Species' sold to an unidentified bidder for $338,500. A second collection from 1985 entitled "Ads" sold to another unidentified bidder, also for $338,500.

One of the most anticipated items—an eight foot glass and steel chandelier by American artist Dale Chihuly, sold for $158,500, slightly more than expected,according to the web site of Heritage Auctioneers in Dallas, which conducted the sale.

(Read More: Allen Stanford Investors May Get Some Money Back)

Last year, a federal jury found Stanford ran a $7 billion scam involving bogus certificates of deposit. Prosecutors said he used most of his customers' money to fund his lavish lifestyle.

A court-appointed receiver rounding up funds to return to victims has had limited success. Earlier this year, a federal judge cleared the way for the return of some $300 million that had been tied up in foreign accounts. But that represents just pennies on the dollar.

(Read More: Court Orders Some Stanford Ponzi Victims to Pay Money Back)

Once the 205th richest American according to Forbes, Stanford was sentenced last year to 110 years in prison. He is appealing his convictions on 13 counts including fraud, obstruction and conspiracy.

By CNBC's Scott Cohn; Follow him on Twitter: @ScottCohnCNBC


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