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March 24, 2006

Duke Cunningham's swag auctioned off

Ph2005112901287 The government auctioned off the possessions of disgraced former Republican Congressman  Duke Cunningham Proceeds from Thurday's sale will go the IRS and the FBI, two of the agencies that investigated Duke's crimes.

Britney Sheehan, a spokeswoman for EG&G Technical Services, which conducted the auction, said the company could not vouch for the authenticity or the condition of any of the Cunningham loot on sale. The auction catalog notes that a number of the pieces of furniture have missing handles, cracked marble tops, loose molding and other damage. Some of the rugs are stained.

Deception, delusion (and suckers) just seems to follow Cunningham around:

For example, Emilio Viscomi of Dana Point, Calif., the most aggressive of the bidders, paid $10,000 for a blue-bordered 10-by-13-foot rug described in the catalog as a handmade antique from Iran.

But David Javaheri, a rug dealer at the auction, said the rug was a modern Chinese machine-made piece. "In Iran, a rug dealer would kiss your hand if you paid him $300 and then pay to ship it to you," Mr. Javaheri said. Another rug merchant, Avner Kadosh, said it was not such a bad piece and was worth maybe $3,000. "I buy and sell these things all the time," he said.

The rest of the loot sounds like what you'd expect if Tony Soprano had a going out of business sale:

Turnout for the auction was relatively strong, Ms. Sheehan said, with more than 500 bidders registered by the 9 a.m. start. She said they were drawn not by the allure or quality of Mr. Cunningham's possessions, but by the 20 cars, the cases of Scotch, the bags of cultured pearls, the gold-crusted Rolex watch and the cartons of contraband cigarettes taken from tax cheats, drug dealers and import-export racketeers.[*]

The image above is of Cunningham's infamous Louis Phillip commode. No word about whether that celebrated item was on the block.
[*Why was Duke Cunningham confiscating cigarettes?!]


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There will be different lessons here for different viewers. To me, This is definitely a tale with a moral

Damn you Lindsay! I had somehow concluded that the Louis Phillip commode was a toilet in the style of the Sun King, all gilded and finely carved, with velvet armrests and mother of pearl inlay on the lid. But it's just a fscking chest of drawers! Why couldn't you post a picture of his carpets instead? Dreamkiller.

Undoubtedly I'm weird, but one of the things I find especially amusing about this is that EG&G is in the business of auctioning off the ill-gotten gains of disgraced Republican crooks. That name is very familiar to me in a very different context: EG&G is a manufacturer of specialized scientific equipment and it was co-founded by one of MIT's most beloved professors, Harold "Doc" Edgerton. Obviously they've diversified since I left school!

I hope the FBI uses their share of the proceeds wisely, possibly by surveilling grandmothers.

Matt, undoubtedly I'm a meta-geek because these are exactly the sorts of details that fascinate me:

EG&G is a manufacturer of specialized scientific equipment and it was co-founded by one of MIT's most beloved professors, Harold "Doc" Edgerton. Obviously they've diversified since I left school!

I'll let you know if I encounter any more info on EG&G.

the auction wasn't all that great. cunningham did not balance his corruption with an overabundance of taste or discernment. a lot of the "hand made persian" rugs were machine made chinese, a lot of the antique items were damaged or not all that unique. what we had was someone with access to somebody else's money who then went shopping without truly knowing his market. at least he wasn't buying art, there would have been too much acrylic on black velvet for my soul to stand.

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