Lehman Brothers art work to go under the hammer

LONDON Sun Aug 8, 2010 11:52am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Art works that once adorned the British and European offices of former banking powerhouse Lehman Brothers are to be auctioned off next month, the bank's administrators said Sunday.

Works by the likes of Lucian Freud and Gary Hume and the sign that adorned the company's offices in London's Canary Wharf financial district will be among the pieces up for sale, said PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which is in charge of the collapsed bank's main European operations.

The bank filed for bankruptcy in September 2008 with debts of $613 billion, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, deepening a global economic crisis and temporarily paralyzing markets.

The date for the sale at Christie's auction house, September 29, was no coincidence, PwC said.

"The auction date was selected to approximately coincide with the second anniversary of the administrations," PwC partner Barry Gilbertson said.

"We think that there are many people around the world who would like to acquire some art with a Lehman connection."

The diverse selection of items include post-war and contemporary pieces, maritime pictures and sporting works of art, PwC said.

There is also a commemorative plaque marking the 2004 opening of the Canary Wharf offices by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he was finance minister which is estimated to fetch up to 1,500 pounds.

Overall, the auction is expected to raise about 2 million pounds ($3.18 million) to help pay back creditors.

"The brothers Lehman collected artwork which adorned their offices since the 19th century," Gilbertson said. "Over the subsequent years, of course, as the business expanded and the leadership changed, so did their corporate taste in art."

A similar sale of 450 contemporary art works owned by Lehman in the United States is due to be held on September 25 and could raise $10 million.

(Reporting by Michael Holden)

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