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Tony Rand and his two boys, Greg and Bill, owe the government money, and a lot of it. Last year, they admitted that their humble family business, Aspen Exploration, was more of a Ponzi scheme that leveraged the company's supposed oil and gas holdings to raise $100 million from investors. Rather than use the money to drill for fossil fuels, as they had promised, they instead treated themselves to lavish homes, vehicles, artwork -- most notably an original Picasso -- and other very expensive stuff.
Included in the latter category are quite a few rare guitars, like this 1959 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst left-hander, that were seized by the Feds and are being put up for sale this week through Dallas' own Heritage Auctions.
Along with the 1959 Les Paul ("This is undoubtedly the same guitar pictured with John McEnroe on the cover of the Guitar Aficionado, Vol. 1/No. 4," Heritage proclaims), there will be a 1960 Gibson Les Paul lefty (which, together with the 1959, represents two-thirds of the world's extant supply of 1958-1960 model left-handed Gibson Les Pauls not owned by Paul McCartney), a 1959 Fender Stratocaster Hardtail, and a 1965 Strat Sunburst.
The auction happens Saturday in Hollywood, though you can bid online. If you have your eye on the Picasso, you'll have to wait. And while the 1959 Les Paul is expected to fetch $125,000, Aspen's investors will also have to wait to recover that $100 million they're owed.