There’s an old adage that says behind every great wealth is a great crime.
Thornhill Auctioneers are seeing it first hand, and now interested buyers can tap into the millions of dollars worth of baubles purchased by the Atkinson brothers, former owners of US Fidelis, a company that defrauded thousands of customers nationwide through the sale of extended vehicle warranties.
US Fidelis shut down in 2009 amid legal investigations.
A public auction of hundreds of items owned by the Atkinsons began last week, but continue through Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3. The sale will help pay thousands of creditors owed money by the bankrupt US Fidelis.
The lavish cars were auctioned last week, so don’t look for those, but there are plenty more of the Atkinson family jewels up for auction, including outrageous Tiffany diamond jewelry and even the simpler things like household items, desks, chairs, refrigerators, televisions, tools and everything a wealthy man could want.
The auction begins at 10 a.m. on both days at the former US Fidelis offices in the old Belz Factory Outlet Mall, 100 Mall Parkway in Wentzville. Doors open at 8 a.m.
Saturday’s lineup includes restaurant and kitchen equipment, exercise equipment, sports equipment, including a full indoor basketball court setup and hundreds of other items. The kitchen and restaurant equipment is top of the line and in like new condition. The exercise equipment is the same as new, auction officials said.
On Sunday, Rolex watches, Tiffany jewelry and diamond rings, necklaces, bracelets and more will be sold. One men’s 18kt. white gold Daytona watch was appraised at $13,000; another Rolex Lady’s diamond watch with Mother-of-Pearl dial and diamond bezel was purchased for $39,150.
Thornhill owner Brenda Thornhill said there will be no minimum placed on bids.
“Our job is to sell the things. We don’t have time to place minimum bids on things,” Thornhill said. “Either they want to sell them or they don’t. This is a court-ordered auction and we’re going to be selling everything to the highest bidder.”
Thornhill says for the novice auction attendee, floor men will be on hand to help.
“It moves pretty fast, but if someone loses track of the price or wants more information for bidding, the men will be there to answer questions,” Thornhill said. “Everything goes to the highest bidder, so everyone has a chance to buy something.”
The Atkinson brothers, Darain, Cory, Kevin and Robert have all worked at U.S. Fidelis, which Darain founded in 2001. Darain, 46, was president and Cory, 39, was vice president. Kevin Atkinson, 45, was a manager there, as was Robert Atkinson, who died last year.
US Fidelis was once the leading extended vehicle warranty service in the nation. The company operated from offices at the old Belz Factory Outlet Center, a 346,000-square-foot complex at I-70 and Hwy. 40. More than 1,000 U.S. Fidelis employees were employed when the business closed last year, and part of the mall has been converted to house Element Church, a church supported largely by the Atkinson family.
Then-Attorney General Jay Nixon filed suit against the company, claiming it violated federal and state telemarketing laws, including the No Call list.
On April 1, 2010, attorneys nationwide filed a class-action suit against U.S. Fidelis in St. Charles County alleging violations of Missouri's consumer-protection law. Numerous other states are following suit.
Real estate owned by Darain Atkinson and his wife will also be sold. Real estate property is valued in the millions of dollars.