In an earlier bankruptcy blog I passed along the story of the Australian man who is auctioning “his entire life” on eBay. In his case, it’s not a bankruptcy sale, but an effort by this man to get rid of all the memories of his failed marriage. As a consumer and business bankruptcy attorney in Indiana for almost twenty five years, I’ve been more likely to see “strange” sales for the purpose of raising cash to pay debts owed to creditors. But what is relevant in my work to the Perth story is that, as we move further and further along into the Age of Technology, more and more advertising is done on the Internet, including advertising assets for sale in a bankruptcy situation.
As I scanned the Internet today, for example, I saw four burial plots for sale in Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier California, (Rose Hills is the largest single-operated cemetery in the world, according to the ad). Then there were ads for collectibles of many kinds, including 1967 Shelby Mustang cars, “high premium coins from the Roman Empire”, antiques, glassware, a couple of Harley Davidson Shovelhead motorcycles, and packs of old baseball cards. Among the most curious collectibles listed for sale today are historical railroad bonds. This type of bond was used years ago by scam artists, giving the false impression to buyers that these bonds would be payable in gold (Not!).
I learned that a woman dog breeder filing bankruptcy is offering 200 pedigreed Labradors for sale, but another woman is taking the opposite approach. Former wife of a Walgreen heir, she’s being forced to give up her mansion in Lake Forest, Illinois because she can’t keep up mortgage payments, but her three Vietnamese potbellied pigs are not for sale, thank you!
It seems not only individuals and companies in the U.S. are making use of the Internet’s far-reaching sales capability, but at least one foreign company is borrowing the idea. Yukos Oil, one of Russia’s largest publicly traded companies filed bankruptcy in Houston Texas, scheduling a sale of company assets to pay the Russian government $28 billion in back taxes!
In this bankruptcy blog, I like to share interesting feature stories and news items that have to do with money and finance, and some, like this article, can be amusing, if sad. But as a consumer bankruptcy specialist here in Indiana, I want to challenge my readers to learn an important lesson from these stories of “stuff for sale”.
Every individual or couple, and every business, should keep – and update frequently – an inventory of items they own, along with receipts and appraisals. Such a list can prove invaluable in the event of a theft or a fire or flood. In the process of filing bankruptcy, a list of assets with a good faith attempt to prove the value of each asset is going to be a crucially important tool.