State News

Former N.C. banker's luxury goods auctioned

Posted November 18, 2009
Updated November 19, 2009

— Jewels, art, cars and more than 150 bottles of fine wine were auctioned off in Raleigh on Wednesday to help recoup nearly $70 million in losses for investors duped in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

Iron Horse Auction Company, of Rockingham, and Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales Ltd., of Hillsborough, conducted the auction under a federal court order to sell the assets of William Wise, 58, who operated the Caribbean-based Millennium Bank from an office in Raleigh.

Little said the sale raised about $750,000.

The auction started started in the early afternoon at the North Raleigh Hilton. In-person and online bids were accepted.

Handbags from Chanel and Louis Vuitton were among the designer items up for auction. Many of the items have barely been used, according to certified estate specialist Nancy Blount.

A designer make-up case sold for $1,200 and a pair of boots went for $650.

Former N.C. banker's luxury goods to be auctioned Luxury items featured in Wise auction

"I'm hoping to get something for less than my husband would let me pay," said bidder Jeanne Christiansen.

A seven-carat diamond ring was sold for $172,500; a convertible sold for $107,000. About 130 bottles of high-priced wine are also part of the sale.

"I spent $500 on three pair of designer shoes," said Jim Hoffman, who got the shoes as a Christmas gift for his daughter.

The auction was an eye-opener for Hoffman.

"This is a little insight into how the ultra-rich live," Hoffman said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Wise used the bank as a front for a Ponzi scheme in which he stole nearly $70 million from 375 investors since July 2004.

No charges have been filed in the case, but after the SEC sued Wise and others in March, the courts froze all of Wise's assets.

Wise's whereabouts are unknown.


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  • james27613 Nov 18, 2009

    They need to make a fraud cases like this one a capital offense.

  • annemarek Nov 18, 2009

    Why would anyone want this junk?

  • kiediss Nov 18, 2009

    so what happened to the spouse and family? Where are they now and who is paying their bills? Where is William Wise? What happened with the video of the family friend coming to remove boxes from the home? Just hanging out in Canada watching hockey games? Something is missing here... big time.

  • Nunya123 Nov 18, 2009

    Wonder if I can get the SL600 or S600 for good price. Only things in the auction worth really looking at. Starting price on a new SL600 is around $140k so going to have to outbid a bunch of dealers looking at that.

  • Nunya123 Nov 18, 2009

    Really wonder what the used footware will go for. Yuck.

  • Vietnam Vet Nov 18, 2009

    Nobody ever said criminals had taste...

  • Vietnam Vet Nov 18, 2009

    So much for the ill gotten gains!!

  • prez23062 Nov 18, 2009

    ok, can someone provide a link to the auction if its still going on? i googled iron horse and found the site, but couldnt find a way to view the stuff, if there is any left.

  • WRALblows Nov 18, 2009

    "I can't imagine the feds not being able to track find him and charge him."

    $70 million in Mexico is almost $730 million here. He's retired, not running.

  • WRALblows Nov 18, 2009

    "ultimately, he will be punished."

    Very doubtful. White collar crime pays.