Ex-Lehman president Gregory puts antiques on auction block

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Former Lehman Brothers president Joseph Gregory, who often commuted by helicopter to work before his bank went bust, is auctioning off a collection of centuries old furniture and artwork from his Long Island mansion which sold in June.

Auction house Sotheby's said on Tuesday that"important English furniture from some of the most notable cabinet makers, along with European porcelain and decorations" would be auctioned next month in a sale devoted to the collection of Gregory and his wife, Niki.

Among the items listed for auction are two commodes - chests of drawers - made in the 1700s, estimated to be worth up to US$120,000 (S$151,000) and US$400,000, and a painting by the Dutch artist Bartholomeus Assteyn titled "A Still Life of Grapes, Cherries, Peaches and Other Fruit in a Basket, with a Rose and a Dragonfly on a Stone Ledge," listed for US$60,000 to US$80,000.

Before Lehman collapsed five years ago, Mr Gregory boasted he had a personal spending budget of more than US$15 million a year, Ms Vicky Ward wrote in "The Devil's Casino: Friendship, Betrayal, and the High Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers," a book about how key personalities at the firm led it to ruin.

He often flew from Long Island to his midtown Manhattan office in a seaplane or helicopter. And his wife, who had a taste for expensive shoes, took trips to Los Angeles just to go shopping, according to Ms Ward.

In 2009, Mr Gregory filed aUS $233 million claim against Lehman's estate to recover deferred stock compensation, which is still outstanding.

The auction follows the sale of the Gregorys' home in Lloyd Harbor, New York, which was listed in July 2012 with an asking price of US$22 million, Sotheby's said. Details of the sale were not immediately available from the auction house.

But real estate website Redfin.com shows that the house sold in June for US$17.5 million.

"After many wonderful years designing, decorating and collecting for the house, the Gregorys are moving to a new chapter of their lives, with new projects and a focus on their own charitable organisation," Sothebys said in its catalogue.

Their furnishings and artwork will be on display at the Sotheby's York Avenue galleries beginning on Oct. 18, and the auction will take place on Oct. 24.

Items for sale also include a desk-and-bookcase, a breakfront bookcase and a pair of George III pier tables, all created in the 1700s by English furniture makers, along with European porcelain and decorations.

The Gregorys will also sell artwork in their collection by Robert Léopold Leprince and John Glover, which will be auctioned as part of Sotheby's Old Masters week.

Mr Gregory, who was also chief operating officer of Lehman and long worked alongside Chief Executive Richard "Dick" Fuld, was let go in June 2008 along with Chief Financial Officer Erin Callan. He had worked at Lehman for more than three decades. The bank's failure in September 2008 was a major factor in precipitating the global financial crisis.

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