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Luxury loot: The 5 most intriguing items seized and sold by US Marshals

Nov 23, 2023

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There’s more to the U.S. Marshals Service than what you see from Tommy Lee Jones in “The Fugitive” and the follow-up film, “U.S. Marshals.” Part of what the real agency does is seize millions of dollars worth of goods from criminals and put up the pricey goods on the auction block. Bloomberg Businessweek analyzed the agency’s scores over the years. Here are the most interesting and expensive items auctioned off in this week’s Five For Friday.

#5: Crypto & Gold

The value of items auctioned by Marshals ballooned in 2021 and 2022, thanks in large part to cryptocurrency seizures, according to the Bloomberg analysis.

The government timed the market perfectly, making $39.5 million from a sale of Bitcoin in 2021 when a single coin demanded nearly $60,000. The feds also made $12.6 million in Bitcoin seized from a dark-web drug dealer and another $12.5 million in Ethereum from another dark-web entrepreneur. Cryptocurrency is often tied to crime but in a more classic take, feds sold just shy of $100,000 in gold in 2019 from a woman who trafficked marijuana throughout the country.

#4: Art

Art is seen as one of the best ways for nefarious actors to launder money. These next two items came out of the $4 billion 1MDB scandal. Andy Warhol’s Round Jackie, which is literally a round portrait of Jackie Kennedy, sold for $1 million. Meanwhile, Ed Ruscha’s Bliss Bucket sold for $370,000.

There was also a movie poster for 1927’s Metropolis, an iconic film from the silent era, that sold for $1.1 million. Leonardo DiCaprio is also rumored to have one of these rare posters.

#3: Trading Cards

Trading cards have traded up to first-class investments in recent years. Unfortunately for good-guy collectors, the bad guys are aware of the appreciation.

Last year, Marshals auctioned off a Charizard Pokémon card for $43,000. That sounds like a lot, but the criminal in question paid $58,000 for the card with some of the $85,000 he stole from COVID relief funds. U.S. Marshals also sold a 1952 Mickey Mantle card for $105,000, but it was only rated a 7 out of 10. The same card with a 9.5 rating sold for $12.6 million last year making it the most expensive sports card ever sold.

A word to the wise: Don’t play with the cards.

#2: Luxury Goods

Criminals can be somewhat predictable in their purchases. U.S. Marshals auctioned off 44 Rolex watches in 2018 alone. The most expensive Rolex they sold that year was the “Everose” Gold Sky-Dweller, which sold for $33,000.

The most expensive watch in recent years is a limited edition Richard Mille “Black Phantom” timepiece, which sold for $269,000 at auction. Other luxury goods include a collection of Hermes bags that sold for $26,000 and 12 pairs of Louboutins for $6,000. They must have been pre-worn because that sounds like a deal.

#1: Sweet Rides

Speaking of predictable, people who are up to no good tend to like their high-priced rides. An Irish Sport Horse named Cinda fetched $60,000 at auction in 2020. For the seafaring type, a 2014 Ferretti yacht brought in $3.2 million at auction and a pair of Boston Whaler Outrage Motor Boats sold for $815,000 after Marshals seized them from a man that defrauded lottery winners.

You have to be bold to buy a plane with money you got from illegal activities, and it certainly happens. A 1994 Raytheon Hawker 800 sold for $405,000 at auction. Supercars are also a hot commodity for society’s underbelly. U.S. Marshals got $760,000 for a 1991 Ferrari F40 seized from a man that stole $13 million from Veterans Affairs.

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Simone Del Rosario:
If your only reference to the U.S. Marshals Service is Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, here’s part of what the real agency actually does: Seize millions in goods procured by criminals and sell it off on behalf of federal courts. So here’s a short movie on that: The most interesting and expensive scores auctioned by U.S. Marshals in this week’s Five For Friday.

The value of U.S. Marshals’ stash ballooned in 2021 and 2022 thanks to crypto seizures, according to the Bloomberg analysis. The government timed the market perfectly, making $39.5 million from a Bitcoin sale in 2021 when a single coin brought in nearly $60k. They made another $12.6 million in Bitcoin from a dark-web drug dealer and roughly the same in Ethereum from another dark web entrepreneur. In a more old school situation, they sold about $100 grand in gold bullion in 2019 from a woman who trafficked weed across the country.

Art is one of the best ways to launder money. Just saying. These scores came out of the $4 billion dollar 1MBD scandal. Andy Worhol’s Round Jackie, literally a round portrait of Jackie Kennedy, sold for a cool mill. Ed Ruscha’s Bliss Bucket sold for $370 grand. And a movie poster for 1927’s Metropolis sold for $1.1 million. We heard Leo DiCaprio has one of these.

Trading cards have traded up to first-class investments. Unfortunately the bad guys know it too. Last year, Marshals auctioned off an elusive Charizard Pokemon Card for $43,000. Sounds like a lot, but the knucklehead they busted for stealing $85 grand in COVID relief funds paid $58k for it. A 1952 Mickey Mantle card went on the Marshals block, too, for $105,000, but the quality was just a 7 out of 10. The same card with a 9.5 rating went for $12.6 million last year, the most expensive sports card ever sold. Moral of the story, kids, don’t play with the cards.

Criminals can be somewhat predictable. U.S. Marshals auctioned off 44 Rolexes in 2018 alone. The most expensive Rolex was the “Everose” Gold Sky-Dweller which went for $33 grand, but the most expensive watch in recent years was the $269,000-dollar Richard Mille Black Phantom timepiece. Other luxury goods included Hermes bags for $26k and 12 pairs of Louboutins for a paltry $6k, which seems like a pretty good deal.

Here are some of the sweetest rides on the auction block. An Irish sport horse named Cinda fetched $60K in 2020. A 2014 Ferretti yacht brought in $3.2 mil at auction, while a pair of Boston Whaler Outrage Motor Boats sold for $815,000, taken from a guy who defrauded lottery winners. Now, you gotta be bold to buy a plane, but this 1994 Raytheon Hawker 800 sold for $405,000. And you know supercars are all the rage with society’s underbelly. Marshals got $760k for the 1991 Ferrari F40 seized from a guy that stole $13 million from Veterans Affairs.

If you’re looking for something more useful, there’s a 4 bedroom houseboat that sold in 2020 for $354,000. It had 7 TVs but no smoke detectors. Priorities. That’s Five for Friday. I’m Simone Del Rosario. It’s Just Business.

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