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Bad for city, but good for auctioneers

Liquidating Rita Crundwell’s multimillion-dollar empire has been the job of various auction companies, with the latest auction having been held Saturday. Dixon’s ex-comptroller was bad news for the city, but good news for auctioneers.

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

The Rita Crundwell scandal has been mighty bad for the city of Dixon.

The treasury lost $53.7 million over more than 2 decades, city services were severely hampered, the public’s trust in its government was shaken, and the city’s reputation was tarnished.

But the scandal has been mighty good for the auction industry.

The latest auction of Crundwell’s property happened Saturday. The U.S. Marshals Service conducted a live and online auction of Crundwell’s jewelry collection, the extent of which was jaw-dropping.

With her ill-gotten gains, Crundwell bought 229 pieces of jewelry for herself and her boyfriend.

When the bidding wars were over, the auction, staged at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, raised $258,375.

The top item was a man’s 14-karat yellow gold and diamond horseshoe-shaped ring. It fetched $12,300.

Crundwell’s vast collection of rings, necklaces, watches, loose diamonds, and gold bars attracted 190 bidders.

For its efforts, the auction company received a 12 percent commission.

Other auction companies have helped liquidate Crundwell’s empire. A Virginia-based horse auction company sold hundreds of quarter horses and horse-related gear in a massive 2-day auction in September.

Crundwell’s fleet of cars, trucks and trailers was auctioned.

Her furniture at homes in Dixon and Florida was auctioned.

Her Lexus convertible, her grand piano, her hot tub, and her full-length cowhide mirror – all garish examples of her lavish lifestyle – were sold to the highest bidders.

It’s not surprising that the U.S. Marshals and their asset forfeiture division turned to auctioneers to transform Crundwell’s loot into cash for restitution to the city. Auctions are an efficient, relatively quick way to liquidate possessions.

If auctioneers have played a big role in the Crundwell saga, perhaps it was preordained.

After all, Crundwell was arrested on April 17, just 4 days before National Auctioneers Day.

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