Just as Andersen's best people and business practices have gone on the chopping block, sold off to the highest bidder, so, too, will the corporate art collection that once adorned the firm's offices in Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis.
On Saturday, auctioneers will throw open the doors at its once-hallowed headquarters for bidders to pick over more than 2,000 pieces of fine art painstakingly collected over 90 years by partners at the beleaguered firm.
The art auction could raise as much as $1 million for the firm, according to Andersen spokesman Patrick Dorton. Dorton declined to say how the money raised would be used.
"Obviously, this firm is operating at a dramatically reduced size," said Dorton. "As a result, sales of furniture, art and technology have already been held."
Andersen has seen its ranks dwindle from 28,000 a year ago to less than 1,000 as it became embroiled in the scandal surrounding the collapse of longtime client Enron Corp.
Most of the firm's remaining employees now spend their time defending Andersen against numerous lawsuits resulting from its role as auditor at several troubled former clients.
The Chicago art auction promises to attract an eclectic mix of former Andersen personnel, bargain basement junkies and art devotees hoping to find a treasure at a reasonable price.
Newspaper advertisements for the "Arthur Andersen Chicago Art Collection" promise three ways to buy: high-end investment sales, live webcast or cash 'n' carry for the more discerning buyer.
The sale is thought to be the largest in a series of similar auctions under way at major Andersen offices nationwide.
A recent liquidation sale in Atlanta pooling 380 pieces from several offices fetched $174,000, according to a spokeswoman for Ponsford Ltd. The Acworth, Ga., art conservation and restoration firm handled that sale and had hoped it would generate over $350,000. But a number of recognized pieces, some valued at $30,000, failed to garner the expected price.
Previewing in Chicago begins Nov. 2 through Nov. 8 at the company's 33 W. Monroe St. headquarters.
Among the star works is an abstract sculpture by Sam Gilliam, the respected African-American artist, and original paintings by Latin American painter Paul Sierra.
Limited edition prints by pop artist Robert Rauschenberg and others such as those by Jean Dubuffet, Leroy Neiman and Chester Danforth will be on sale, as will works from contemporary local and regional artists.
"The collection is representative of a broad range of views," according to Emily Nixon, whose company, Nixon Art Associates, is appraising the 300 to 400 high-end pieces. The collection was cobbled together by several senior Andersen partners, who often bought the work of local community artists as a means of public support.
Andersen offices' art for sale
Auction may raise $1 million
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