Jailed financier's mansion headed to sheriff's sale

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The Geist mansion of the former high-living Indianapolis financier Tim Durham is headed to a Hamilton County sheriff's sale.

Durham is in prison. His old house is in foreclosure. It appears to be a millionaire's fixer-upper.

On paper, Durham's estate looks like anyone's dream house. In reality, it's been a nightmare for realtors trying to sell it and a bank trying to recover its multi-million dollar mortgage.

A 22-room mansion, a now-snow-covered resort-sized pool and a garage bigger that most houses, all overlook Geist Reservoir. There's about five acres of prime lake front property. It's worth a small fortune, but apparently not the $5.5 million asking price.

"If they have that kind of money, they don't want somebody else's dream. They want their own dream," said Prudential real estate broker Greg Cooper, who admitted, "on paper it does look spectacular."

Just like the man who built it. A decade ago, Tim Durham looked to be on top of the financial world, living a life of obvious opulence. There were vintage cars, museum-quality artwork and expensive homes, until two years ago. In 2012, a federal court decided Durham paid for it all with other people's money. Thousands of investors, many of them elderly, lost more than $200 million.

Durham was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Tuesday, movers could be seen from the estate's front gate, taking down curtains and carrying away other items. When Cooper recently took a potential buyer inside, the house looked run down, like squatters had moved in, rooms were locked and inaccessible.

"The person said if I can't see all the rooms, I'm not interested in buying the house," Cooper said.

Investors are still trying to recover their losses. They'll have to wait behind JP Morgan Chase. The bank is owed $4.5 million. Investors may benefit from the sheriff's sale only if it raises more than that, which appears unlikely.

Cooper says homes as good, perhaps better, than Durham's have sold for less.

His guess for the winning bid?

"Certainly less than five-and-a-half (million dollars). Probably less than four-and-a-half. Maybe there will be bidders under three," he predicted.

The sheriff's sale is scheduled for March 6.