HOUSTON – The big "E" went for big green.
Enron Corp.'s trademark "tilted-E" sign sold for $44,000 on Wednesday as the bankrupt former energy giant began auctioning off surplus items.
Jimmy Luu, sent by his boss at a Microcache Computer store in Houston to buy the sign, said he was given explicit orders regarding the 5-foot, stainless-steel sign that once stood outside a downtown satellite office.
"He said, `Just do anything to get it,"' Luu said after the gavel came down on the big E in a crowded Houston hotel ballroom.
Scott Bui, attorney for Microcachtschy items like stress balls, mugs and an air hockey table. The auction will be one of many that will be held to raise proceeds for creditors.
Enron declared bankruptcy in a wave of accounting irregularities that caused its high-flying stock to crash last year. The scandal has resulted in three convictions so far with more indictments expected.
Luu said Microcache will display the sign at one its three stores in Houston.
Bidders began arriving at the Radisson Astrodome around 5 a.m., four hours before the auction began. The hotel was jammed with more than 1,000 bidders, with hundreds more in line waiting to get in as others left. An additional 12,000 people from around the world were registered online.
Auctioneer Kirk Dove kept a humorous perspective on the proceedings, calling the sign the "world's largest cufflink." Another "tilted-E" went for $15,000 in a London auction earlier this year.
Bidders expecting bargains however, might have been disappointed. Electronics, furniture and other items were consistently selling at or above retail price because of the scandal appeal. For instance, an older-generation Palm Pilot that can be bought for under $100 sold for $220.
Brian Cruver, a former Enron employee who wrote the book "Anatomy of Greed: The Unshredded Truth From an Enron Insider," was at the hotel with his own agenda.
"I'm here to buy my old chair," he said. "It's the most comfortable chair I've ever sat in and I want it back."