Everything must go! One day only! If you’re in the market for some ’NSYNC gold records, a couple of Sea Doos, 10,000 jewel cases or a LFO signed poster, then you should get down to Orlando, Florida, before the end of the day. Those items are among the thousands up for auction Tuesday (June 12) that used to belong to disgraced boy-band mogul Lou Pearlman.(See pictures of some of the items up for sale here.)
The items are part of a liquidation of the remaining assets of Pearlman’s once-billion-dollar Trans Continental empire — which included a jet service and management of ’NSYNC and Backstreet Boys (see “Backstreet Boys Sue Former Manager — Again” ) — that has crumbled to the ground amid charges that Pearlman defrauded investors out of more than $300 million in too-good-to-be-true investment schemes and owes banks another $130 million in loans.
As the 1,400 angry investors await word on what happened to their money and who is going to be held accountable, Pearlman is missing. According to reports, the man who practically invented the modern boy-band phenomenon in the 1990s has been in Europe since January as authorities worked to secure all his assets.
“We consider every little bit important,” Soneet Kapila, the bankruptcy trustee who is selling Pearlman’s assets to raise money for creditors, told the Orlando Sentinel. Given the astronomical claims and depending on who shows up to bid, Kapila’s lawyer said, it’s unlikely the proceeds will make much of a dent. The list of items on the block ranges from the mundane to the bizarre (hundreds of pieces of office furniture; electronics; airplane parts; lava lamps; 80,000 microphones; gold and platinum records from ’NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, O-Town, LFO, Aaron Carter and Take 5; a key to the city of Orlando; a ping-pong table; an oxygen tank; and signed basketballs from 2000’s “Longshot,” the flop movie co-written by Pearlman starring Paul Sorvino and Antonio Sabato Jr.).
In what investigators call a classic pyramid scheme, Pearlman and his associates are alleged to have sold potential investors — many of them elderly citizens who ponied up their retirement funds — on a plan to buy what turned out to be phony securities in what Pearlman called his “employee investment savings account” through Trans Continental Airlines Inc.
TransCon promised investors that their money was insured, and some early investors were paid quarterly using money from new investors. Now, with dozens of allegedly cheated investors lining up to sue Pearlman for fraud, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation wants to talk to Pearlman but hasn’t been able to track him down since he left the country in January.
While his exact whereabouts are unknown, Pearlman has been spotted overseas. He was filmed in Berlin in February watching as his latest boy band, the German group US5, took home an award for Best International Band at the Goldene Kamera Pop awards. A short time later, TransCon’s remaining assets were put in receivership and the FBI and IRS stormed the company’s Orlando offices and carted away reams of evidence.
A TransCon spokesperson could not be reached for comment at press time.