NEW YORK — For $5, anyone who stepped in off the street Tuesday could have become the owner of a genuine Ivan F. Boesky & Co. wastebasket.
"All Rubbermaid!" an auctioneer said as he displayed a stack of the plastic trash buckets. With that encouragement, they sold quickly on a day of decidedly unfrenzied buying.
More than 100 people crowded the old Boesky offices on 5th Avenue to buy furniture at bargain prices or, in some cases, to inspect the former headquarters of the central figure in the worst insider-trading scandal in Wall Street history.
Boesky, once one of the biggest stock speculators, was sentenced to three years in prison Dec. 18 on a criminal charge that resulted from the government's investigation of the scandal.
He previously had paid a record $100-million penalty to settle a civil complaint of insider trading, the misuse of secret information for profit in securities deals. He also has been banished from the securities business.
The auction, conducted by Michael Amodeo Inc., was advertised as a "dissolution sale (of the) entire executive offices of (a) well known Wall Street arbitrageur."
Items for sale included dozens of slightly battered oak desks and leather chairs, plenty of empty file cabinets, four bedraggled plants that appeared to be suffering severe drought and other office paraphernalia. None had the Boesky company's name imprinted on them.
Boesky's personal office was off limits to buyers inspecting the premises. An auction company employee standing nearby said it had been stripped of furnishings.
That disappointed many who came to peek and not buy, but there were other distractions. One curio-seeker walked out boasting he had taken some genuine Ivan Boesky & Co. letterheads. Some poked through cardboard boxes filled with reports to Boesky from subordinates, at least until a guard stopped them.
The auction provided a lesson in how the mighty have fallen. Auctioneer Michael Amodeo tried to start bidding on a $5,000 reception desk at $500; it sold for $300.
When bidding started sluggishly on another desk, an auction aide attempted to excite buyer interest by suggesting it came with drawers. A credenza was described glowingly as "a heavy piece of furniture."
One high point was the sale of a "complete record storage unit"--file cabinets--that Amodeo valued at $25,000. When the first bid came in at $200, Amodeo groaned.
"C'mon, it's ridiculous," he said. "C'mon, there was famous records stored in there."
His comments drew laughs from the 50 or so people who stayed for the bidding, but the exhortation helped. The storage system sold for $750.