The buyers were almost as surprising as some of the items up for sale.
"I can't believe I got it!" said Broward Circuit Judge Marc Gold of his newly-won photo of disgraced lawyer Scott Rothstein with George W. Bush. Judge Gold paid $400 at auction for a memento of one of biggest Ponzi schemes in history: Wednesday, Rothstein is expected to plead guilty to running a $1.2 billion dollar scam through the sale of fake settlements.
Proceeds from yesterday's six-hour auction of items seized from his now-defunct practice, Rothstein Rosenfelt Adler, will go toward satisfying the firm's bankruptcy claims and victims of the scheme. Sales topped $182,310, though it's unclear how much will be left after fees paid to the liquidation firm and the auctioneer, Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Fisher.
The scene was about as bloodthirsty as you'd expect considering the circumstances. A crowd of 300, including 168 registered bidders, came to take away trinkets, rugs, furniture, photos, clocks and even a hand vacuum, all part of Rothstein's life in the fast lane.
Among them: the daughter of former governor Lawton Chiles, Rhea Chiles, who forked over $5,500 for a desk clock, $3,250 for a limited-edition designer pen, and $1,500 for a painting that once concealed Rothstein's 80" television.
"By buying anything you're helping to make restitution for people who were victimized – and that's what really matters," Chiles said, while noting it was "hard to see how deeply in bed this guy was with people who should be our statesmen."
Others found it less hard.
"Look, they're almost kissing!" exclaimed Sergio Pino, a well-known Miami builder and political enthusiast who paid $2,100 for a photo of Rothstein and Governor Charlie Crist, inscribed "Scott -- you're amazing!"
"Somebody already offered me $2,400 for it, so I think I made a good investment," Pino said. "Hopefully, this will raise a lot of money today, because the guy (Rothstein) hurt so many people. You're never going to get back a billion two, but at least this is something."
The head of the Broward Democratic Party, Mitch Ceasar, spent $150 on a framed letter signed by Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti. Other notable attendees included former RRA managing partner Grant Smith, friend of Rothstein and cigar store owner Moe Sohail, and bankruptcy trustee Herb Stettin and lawyer Paul Singerman.
Singerman got the jab of the day: "Glad we're at the beginning of the end of the disposition of these outragous self-aggrandizing mementa that Mr. Rothstein accumulated."
Or maybe not.
"Only in South Florida," said attendee Rich Stadler of Fort Lauderdale. "It's never-ending entertainment."