A selection of the few things of value salvaged from the nation's savings and loan collapse can be found at Larry A. Makowski's Baltimore auction house, Express Auction Services Inc.
Makowski's firm, along with an art dealer in Miami, is involved in auctioning off some of the art work, jewelry and other precious items seized by federal regulators when they took over insolvent thrifts.
The Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency that is handling the assets of insolvent thrifts, turned to the specialized auctions after initially selling the art work and jewelry at general auctions. "They felt they were not getting a fair return," said Makowski. Now that the items are being sold separately from other S&L assets, they are fetching higher prices, he said.
While most of the items are either furnishings or items seized by the thrifts for loan defaults, some of the jewelry being sold was purchased improperly by the management of one S&L, Makowski said. He declined to identify the thrift.
After nine auctions in various parts of the country, Express and its partner, Sterling Art Inc., have raised between $2 and $3 million. Their latest auction was in Baltimore on Monday and between $40,000 and $50,000 was raised, Makowski said.
The local auction at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel included the furnishings of three failed savings and loans and some of the items they had seized as a result of defaulted loans. The sale also included items that were on consignment from individuals, finance companies and pawn shops.
Featured at the auction were paintings in gold gilt frames, prints by Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso, a Tiffany-style lamp, marble top desks, a variety of statuettes, crystal and silver tableware, fur coats and jewelry.
Of the the more than 300 items on sale at the auction, 110 were from one local failed institution and two out-of-state defunct thrifts, Makowski said. The items from the S&Ls included the prints, the paintings and the bronze statuettes, he said.
Makowski said he was prohibited from disclosing the names of the financial institutions under the company's agreement with the RTC.
The RTC is the federal agency responsible for liquidating the savings and loans and banks that have failed over the last several years.