The Associated Press reports on yet another Ponzi scheme that leaves little behind but art as a tangible asset. In Denver, Shawn Merriman, who was a Bishop in the Mormon church, had been running a Ponzi scheme from his home for 15 years. He also had a taste for art, especially Rembrandt’s religious works:
“On March 18, 2009, Merriman confessed to criminal authorities that he had been engaging in a Ponzi scheme,” according to a court document recently filed by the SEC. The document also said Merriman claimed he had about $7 million in assets left, mostly in investment-grade art.
Authorities were moving to freeze bank accounts for companies established by Merriman, including Market Street Advisors, Mountain Springs Partners, and Impressions Everlasting, a company formed to invest in art.
Among the 370 works of art sought by federal authorities are Rembrandt’s 1633 “Descent From the Cross: The Second Plate” and 1654 “The Entombment”; two works by Picasso; four bronze busts; and an acrylic sculpture. Merriman told the Deseret News in March 2008 that he had collected 56 of Rembrandt’s 70 religious prints, some which were on display throughout The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints buildings in Denver last year.