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Bankrupt firm's assets rising - on eBay

Bloomberg News / September 17, 2008
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GREENSBORO, N.C. - Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s bankruptcy, the largest in history, sent the firm's employees to eBay Inc.'s auction sites to offer knick-knacks, memorabilia, and even parting shots.

One employee was selling a Lehman water bottle.

Chief executive Dick Fuld "told me this brand new, never used bottle is unbreakable, but he also said that about our mortgage business 2 months ago," the seller wrote on the US website. "Caveat Emptor, I guess," the seller wrote, using the Latin phrase that means "buyer beware."

"Worked here half of my career," the seller also wrote. "Bought half my stock at a weighted average price of $45. Enough said."

The shares of the 158-year-old investment bank, as high as $85.80 in February 2007, traded at just over 20 cents after the bankruptcy filing Monday. Bidding on the green bottle with a black cap started Monday at 99 cents and rose to at least $20.50.

The public forum of eBay's sites offered some Lehman employees an opportunity to make themselves heard amid Wall Street's biggest upheaval since the Great Depression. The New York-based firm has 25,000 employees across the globe.

"Own a piece of Financial History," the seller of an "Official Lehman Brothers Fire Safety Team Hat" said. "Please give this hat a nice home."

Bidding on the red cap, whose wearer was meant to lead employees to safety during a fire, climbed to at least $31 from 99 cents on Monday.

The starting bid for each of four white T-shirts emblazoned with "Lehman Brothers" was $12.99. As of 3:19 p.m. on Monday, no one had bid.

"EVERYTHING must go," the seller wrote. "Now that Lehman Brothers is dying, all of the LB logo items are of high value as they have become instant collector's items."

EBay has no comment on the auction of Lehman items, said Jose Mallabo, a company spokesman. EBay has become something of an archeological resource for past failures, where collectors can find a piece of US corporate history for a price.

Some entrepreneurs were quick to try and take advantage of the bank's demise.

T-shirts reading "I invested my life savings in Lehman Brothers and all I have left is this lousy T-shirt" are already on eBay. In small type below the main message the printer added: "Brother, can you spare a dime," described in comments on the site as "reminiscent of the Depression Era when banks also failed."

One of those T-shirts, size "large" and labeled "100% authentic" drew a high bid of $20.50 Monday, and the auction ends tomorrow.

"Please help me raise plan B financing for my rent check," the seller wrote.

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