Durham art auction to raise funds for Fair Finance customers

Norman Rockwell
Published: .
Updated: .

Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

Cleveland - Artwork owned by embattled Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham goes up for bid this weekend in Cleveland.

The sale could bring money to families who lost millions investing with Durham's failed company Fair Finance.

More than 100 works of art are up for auction, including paintings and prints by Peter Max, Picasso, Renoir and Rockwell.

"The works are bright, colorful and there are some good names," said Indianapolis fine art appraiser Stephen Rose.

But it's the name of the collection's former owner that many hope carries the most value: Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham.

"People love to buy art from famous people, from people who are notorious," Rose said.

"We've had people as far afield as Kuwait register to bid online," said Kelly Grimm, with the Cleveland Auction Company.

Joe Esmont, an attorney representing Fair Finance bankruptcy trustee Brian Bash, agrees that Durham's notoriety could help boost prices at the sale.

"It has helped get the auction to a lot more people than you would traditionally have, if you just were running the standard auction in, say, Cleveland or Indianapolis," Esmont said.

While he hasn't been charged with a crime, Durham is accused of bilking $200 million from investors in his Akron-Ohio based company, Fair Finance.

The proceeds from his prints and paintings will go to those families.

Saturday's auction in Cleveland features portraits of rock stars and IndyCars, along with a print series of Durham himself.

The collection was once appraised at $2 million, but it's not clear if bidders will pay that much.

"There are no set rules on an auction. There's nothing predictable about it," Rose said.

Durham's car collection will go to auction in January, including many high-end rides that were towed from his home in Geist.

Investors hope the cars and the art sell for high prices, especially since Durham's mansion is now in foreclosure.

Attorneys are optimistic, but realistic too, about getting a huge return.

"We'd be very very lucky if we were looking at a 25 percent recovery for everyone," Esmont said.

But he says this is an opportunity to at least salvage something for those who lost so much.

Durham has not been charged with any crime.

See the items up for auction