CHARLESTON, S.C. – A guitar said to have been played by Jimi Hendrix and one crafted for Beatle George Harrison stand in a glass case. Nearby are porpoise sculptures, flowered shirts and boxes of gnomes. Across the room is a purple Jaguar with a leopard-skin painted roof.
These and roughly 4,500 other items — including cartons of hot sauce labeled "Al Parish's Bottle of Death" — were on display at the North Charleston Convention Center. The items will be auctioned to recoup some of the $50 million investigators say hundreds of investors lost when they trusted Parish, a flamboyant economist, with their money.
Parish, a former economics professor at Charleston Southern University, is charged with securities fraud. Hospitalized with amnesia when authorities announced their investigation, he is free on $1 million bail and under house arrest.
Thousands of items from stereo equipment to high-end clothing to plates will be auctioned Friday and Saturday, but the sales are expected to bring in only a fraction of the reported loss. From Parish's personal items to paintings he bought as investments, the room looked like it was ready for a large garage sale. Nearly 400 chairs were set up for potential bidders.
"From the outset it has been clear this is not going to have a happy ending," said David Dantzler, an attorney for the Atlanta company rounding up Parish's assets.
"If we sold all the pens and all the watches and all the other things, $3 million would be a real good result and $3.5 million would be fantastic," he added.
Parish spent more than $1 million on guitars and documentation indicates one, a Fender Stratocaster, was played by Hendrix.
Parish spent $525,000 on the sunburst Fender reputedly played by Hendrix between 1965 and 1968 and used to record "Foxy Lady" and "Hey Joe," according to court records.
He also bought a 1968 Gibson Les Paul guitar said to have been owned by Keith Richards and photographed on the cover of the Stone's album "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out," a live album released in 1970.
The $561,000 price for that guitar included a second that George Harrison is said to have ordered for his housekeeper. That acoustic guitar was made by renowned guitar crafter Tony Zemaitis.
Ed Roumillat, an auctioneer for almost 30 years, said it's the largest auction of one person's property he can remember in Charleston.
The items will be sold in about 2,000 lots and he expects a lot of interest in the gnomes by sculptor Tom Clark.
"There are some of those that retail around $500 a piece," he said. "Others you can buy for $19.95. There are people who just love Tom Clark and they are going to come and bid on this stuff."
Roumillat said there were going to be some bargains.
"More for the average man than the high-end collector," he said. "However a knowledgeable collector, if they can pick up one of these watches, say a $150,000 watch for $80,000, that's making money. That's an annual salary."
And the auctioneer's favorite item?
"One of the greatest things, I think, in here is that infrared Solaire grill suggested retail price $17,500," he said, pointing to the silver grill across the room.
Then he picked up a bottle of the hot sauce.
"The absolutely finest item, and I think it brings more for what it is than anything else, is the Al Parish Bottle of Death," he said.