Lawyer Tom Girardi, Made Famous on Bravo, Is Auctioning the Art Off His Firm’s Walls (Along With Everything Else) to Pay Down Debts
In 2018, the lawyer was sued by former clients for allegedly embezzling millions in settlement money from them.
The bankrupt Los Angeles law firm of Girardi Keese, known for numerous high-profile cases against corporations—including the one that inspired the film Erin Brockovich—is auctioning off virtually everything it owns to pay off its mountainous debts.
Among the items up for sale are numerous artworks, including a Marc Chagall print, as well as office furniture, a Cadillac, and various pieces of entertainment memorabilia. One lot in the latter category is an assortment of collectibles related to Erika Jayne, the reality TV star who was married for more than two decades to firm co-founder Tom Girardi before filing for divorce late last year.
Girardi Keese’s wares are being offered up in an online auction hosted by ThreeSixty Asset Advisors under the jurisdiction of the United States Bankruptcy Court. The proceeds will go toward creditors and former clients—including several families that sued Girardi for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars in settlement money from them.
Bidding for the 690-some lots is open now through August 25.
“I’ve conducted hundreds of bankruptcy auctions over 35 years, but this one feels more personal,” said Jeff Tanenbaum, president of ThreeSixty Asset Advisors, in a statement. “Typically, we’re working to recoup money for lenders who, while harmed, factor potential insolvencies into their business model. But many of those suffering from this bankruptcy are different… these are individuals who already suffered personal losses and didn’t know what hit them when the lawyers they turned to for help went bankrupt.”
The Chagall print of the 10 Commandments has currently drawn 55 bids, with a price of $1,700; a framed print of Degas’s Ballet School (c. 1874) is going for $1,050. A color block print signed by Frank Sinatra has been bid up to $950, while two framed Miro prints are currently a steal at $95 and $170, respectively.
Other art-related objects on offer include a book of Man Ray photographs (current bid: $85), and a series of landscape prints with bids that are neck and neck with those for a variety of potted plants ($30 each).
Once a major figure in American law, Girardi, now 82, has had a steep fall from grace in recent years.
In 2018, several families whose relatives died aboard the Boeing flight that crashed in Indonesia hired the lawyer to represent them in a suit against the airline manufacturer. Boeing settled with the families, but two and a half years later, the victims’ relatives claimed they had only received some of the money. They sued Girardi in December 2020 for allegedly appropriating the money for himself.
One month prior, Jayne, Girardi’s wife of 21 years, who became famous for starring in the TV show the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, filed for divorce.
After multiple complaints registered with the California State Bar, the attorney was stripped of his law license in March of this year. Around the same time, Girardi was diagnosed with dementia and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and placed under the care of a conservator.
Girardi served as the trial lawyer in the historic lawsuit brought against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) by the residents of Hinkley, California, who claimed that the utility company was responsible for contaminating the local water with chemicals. In 1996, PG&E ended up settling with the Hinkley residents for $333 million—a record sum for a U.S. direct-action lawsuit at the time.
The case inspired the Oscar-winning 2000 movie, Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts. A poster of the film signed by Roberts is included in the ThreeSixty Asset Advisors auction. The current bid is $45.
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