Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Biofuel Booty: Christie’s to Sell Seized Photo Collection Valued At $15 Million

At least it wasn't stripper poles.*
Back in 2013 we had a couple posts on RINS but Alphaville went deeper into the 2300% move.**

From The Art Newspaper:

Christie’s to sell 2,000 photographs seized by US government in biodiesel fraud
Collection valued at more than $15m was used to launder money, Attorney’s Office says

Christie’s to sell 2,000 photographs seized by US government in biodiesel fraud
A highlight of the collection is Gustave Le Gray's 1856-57 albumen print Bateaux quittant le port du Havre (navires de la flotte de Napoleon III), est $300,000-$500,000. Photo: Christie's Images LTD 2015
In 2013, the US Attorney’s Office in Newark, New Jersey, filed an action seeking the forfeiture of a 2,000-strong collection of photographs valued at more than $15m. The works had been bought by Philip Rivkin, the owner of the Houston-based company Green Diesel, who this June pleaded guilty for his role in a massive biodiesel fraud scheme. The Attorney’s Office says the photographs were bought using the proceeds of the fraud, allegedly to launder the money. The US government has now consigned the confiscated works to Christie’s, which will sell them in a series of themed auctions in New York starting 17 February 2016.

Among the works are prize examples by 19th- and 20th-century photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Edward Steichen, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Josef Sudek. A highlight fr om the first sale is a rare 1856-57 albumen print by Gustav Le Gray, Bateaux quittant le port du Havre (navires de la flotte de Napoléon III), which shows the French emperor’s fleet leaving port. According to media reports at the time, the work set a world record for the artist in 2011 when it was bought by a Texas oil magnate for €917,000 at the auction house Rouillac in Vendôme, outside Paris. Christie’s is offering it with an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.  

Christie’s auctions will start with a special live evening sale on 17 February, as well as morning and afternoon sales the next day; online-only sales will then run through the rest of the year. Each auction will be themed around a subject, such as America the Beautiful, or focus on certain photographers. Rivkin is known to have owned a number of works by Weston, for example, so another highlight of the first sale is his Shell (1927, printed around 1930), which is signed, dated and numbered “24-50”. It carries an estimate of $250,000-$350,000.

Rivkin’s company Green Diesel billed itself as a biodiesel producer, but the Attorney’s Office says it did not generate any actual fuel. It did however sell renewable energy credits (as required under the Clean Air Act) to companies such as Shell, BP, Citgo and Exxon that turned out to be invalid, resulting in losses of more than $78m. Months after agents from the Environmental Protection Agency visited the Green Diesel facility in 2011, Rivkin and his family left the US for Spain, according to court documents. Soon after, Rivkin had his art collection moved to a warehouse in New Jersey and then New York, wh ere it was seized before it could be shipped to Spain....MORE
*From 2013's "How to Spot a Hedge Fund Fraudster":
Bombast. In my experience they are all bombastic.
And stripper poles. You would not believe the number of stripper poles that crooks collect....

...Some of the varlets who have graced our pages:
More Strip Clubs, Private Jets and Ponzis
...“Credit card and bank records show that Martin spent more than $1 million at a strip club and restaurants, nearly $1 million at elite hotels and another $1 million renting flight time on private jets,” prosecutors said.  “He purchased a fleet of luxury vehicles, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to celebrity charity events, and hired personal security guards to accompany him in public.”...
The Dénouement: Perpetrator of $190 Million Minneapolis Foreign Exchange Ponzi Scheme Sentenced
...According to court documents made public, Cook purchased a Rolls Royce Silver Spur, a Maserati Quattroporte, a Hummer H2, a Jaguar S-Type, a Mercedes-Benz, a heavily customized Audi S8, a 60-foot houseboat (complete with a brass stripper pole), an island in Canada and a two-person submarine....
The Stripper and the Ponzi Schemer
A Holly Golightly for the Stripper-Embezzlement Age...

**We went with the cringe-inducing headline "Ethanol: 'Oh, the RINsanity!'" while Izabella had the more normal sounding "Of Bitcoins and RINs" with a recapitulation this year: "Of crude bottoms and Rins".