Blagojevich auction has Elvis, and more

By Jo Napolitano and Pat Curry
Friday, August 20, 2010; A04

CHICAGO -- The small neon sign that read "Governor Blagojevich" was one of the first things to go Thursday as a storage facility in Arlington Heights, Ill., auctioned off belongings of the former governor. The price: $375.

More than 100 people crowded into a parking lot for the auction. Boyer-Rosene Moving and Storage conducted it because, it said, it has not received a monthly payment in more than a year.

The outstanding bill comes to more than $100,000, not including interest.

As the hammer came down, some in the crowd worried that historically significant material might be lost.

Jeffrey Garrett, an associate librarian at Northwestern University, was hoping to buy the governor's most important papers. But Garrett worried that they will scatter across the region as bidders take boxfuls home.

"The man was governor. There is no doubt people will be studying his political career," Garrett said. "He is a Northwestern alum. Historians will probably contact us and ask us what we have."

He ended up buying more than a dozen boxes and said, "I'm a happy man. I think we've done a good job."

An Elvis Presley impersonator opened the event by singing "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Johnny B. Goode" as prospective buyers fanned themselves with their bidding paddles.

Ray Hornkohl, 55, of Buffalo Grove, Ill., said he came looking for Elvis memorabilia and maybe a piece of history.

"I am looking for pictures of him with famous people," he said. "Now that he is a convicted felon, it would probably be worth more." Hornkohl said he'd be willing to part with up to $200.

Jake Sikora, 28, of Chicago said he came to bid on anything associated with the governor, whether it is a picture or a document with Blago's signature.

"I think he's a hoot," Sikora said. "All of my co-workers get a kick out of laughing at his antics. I was hoping to get a trinket or a sweet photo and then track him down and get him to autograph it."

The items up for auction revealed the former governor's love of Elvis:

-- One life-size Elvis statue, which sold for $20,500.

-- An Elvis concert picture from when he played in the Chicago Civic Center on Feb. 16, 1957.

-- A guitar clock with Elvis on it.

-- A poster of Elvis reading a book promoting American libraries.

Other lots included a framed picture of Napoleon, newspaper articles of Blagojevich's inauguration day, a Wrigley Field poster and a box marked "Congressional Archives." Boxes sold for $40 to $50 each.

The crates have been stored at the warehouse since 2002, when Blagojevich was in Congress.

The money raised Thursday will be donated to Children's Memorial Hospital. The federal government had argued in court that the hospital was the subject of a shakedown for campaign money by Blagojevich. But jurors could not agree on a verdict for that extortion charge.

-- Chicago Tribune

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