When big businesses are winding up there business operations after a bankruptcy, they often sell off their assets to pay back creditors. For most businesses this would include selling off things like desks, chairs, computers, and property, but for the Lehman Brothers they have some special items that need the expertise of Sotheby's to auction off, priceless works of art.
A bankruptcy judge has given Lehman Brothers permission to use Sotheby's to auction off such works of art like Andy Warhol's "Young Woman With Halo of Birds," as well as works by Maya Lin, Claes Oldenberg and Robert Rauschenberg. They even have cabinet sculptures from Damien Hirsts "We've Got Style" series. (With a name like "We've Got Style" the cabinet is both very basic and minimalist or it’s the craziest looking cabinet one could imagine, made from tire pieces and discarded soda cans.)
Lehman Brothers certainly had expensive tastes with their art because Sotheby's estimates that the auction could bring in upwards of $10 million. Overall the collection amounts to 447 pieces of art, which come from Lehman Brothers and its affiliates.
This situation begs to ask the question, what in the world was Lehman Brothers doing amassing so much art work? I appreciate fine art as much as the next guy and I can understand the rational of impressing clients by having a Warhol hanging in the lobby, but 447 pieces seems a bit excessive. Their hallways must have been mini art galleries, and based on their expensive tastes they probably had themed restrooms.
It’s interesting to look at the corpse of the bankrupt company and see how it all went south for them. Often you will see that many of these failed companies are littered with poor decisions and misguided ventures. Lehman Brothers art collection is just another example of a corporations needless excess. (I would have been OK had they spent $8 million on art, but $10 million is just ridiculous.)