Check eBay, and you can find many small fragments purportedly from the Berlin Wall, which came down in 1989, reuniting Germany and signaling the fall of the Soviet Union.
But imagine paying the shipping fees on a 12-foot, 8,000-pound concrete slab.
That’s what some lucky buyer will have to figure out after the very heavy piece of history is auctioned off in metro Atlanta May 25 to repay investors bilked out of millions of dollars by a local wealth manager.
Painted with an American flag, a white building and people, the formerly West Germany-facing piece has stood in front of the Suwanee city hall since early May.
Just moving it there from storage cost $3,000, said Gregory Hays, managing principal Buckhead-based Hays Financial Consulting, which was assigned as the case’s federal receiver, the company appointed to sell off seized assets to repay investors.
The wall section was seized from Benjamin DeHaan of Lighthouse Financial Partners LLC, who plead guilty to fraud this February. He used $2.5 million from 56 clients’ personal accounts to purchase a house, pay for office expenses and buy into a restaurant deal in Memphis, Tenn.
Mr. DeHaan purchased the wall section from a client, perhaps as an investment, then crated it in a storage unit, Mr. Hays told Global Atlanta.
After seizing it, Hays had to find a public place to build buzz for the auction. Serendipitously, Suwanee was looking for public art and had an opening in the town square.
“They jumped all over it. They wanted to display it there in their park,” Mr. Hays said, nothing that the wall section’s journey is outlined in a timeline displayed along with the slab.
According to the timeline, the piece came to the United States in 1991 and has been displayed in Atlanta more than once, most recently at Colony Square in 2009 for a celebration marking the 20-year anniversary of the fall of the wall.
Auction Management Corp. will host Saturday’s auction, taking bids in online and in the Suwanee town square at 4:30 p.m.
Mr. Hays said the wall segment sold for $40,000 a few years ago, but he’s unsure what it will go for this time.
“The only way to do it is to put it to auction and get the word out,” he said.
For more information on the auction, click here.