U.S. News

Allen Stanford's face for sale on souvenir tile

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The mustached face of Sir Allen Stanford, the billionaire Texan accused of an $8 billion fraud by U.S. regulators, can be yours for only $29.99.

A Fort Myers, Florida, entrepreneur has put Stanford’s face on a “limited edition” commemorative tile that he peddles on eBay Inc’s online auction site.

“Only 1,000 will be produced and the original plaster models will then be destroyed,” the listing on eBay says. “This would be an ideal gift for friend or for family.”

Kosmas Ballis, the owner of the online store that sells the tiles, said the Stanford image was created soon after the U.S. Securities and Exchange accused the financier and three of his companies of a massive Ponzi scheme.

“We’ve done pretty well with them,” Ballis said in a telephone interview. He said about 30 of the 6-inch black and white tiles have sold so far.

While the Stanford tile is moving, it is not outselling the company’s Bernard Madoff commemorative tile, Ballis said.

“The Madoff tile is crazy,” he said, adding that it has been especially popular with Palm Beach, Florida gift shops.

Madoff, who had a $9.4 million home and wealthy clients in Palm Beach, pleaded guilty on March 12 to running the biggest investment fraud in Wall Street’s history.

Stanford and his lawyers have said he did not run a Ponzi scheme. In a Ponzi scheme, early investors are paid with funds from later investors.

Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston, editing by Gerald E. McCormick