Jan. 30, 2006 — -- What happened to them? Where did those stainless-steel, big E signs that came to symbolize the downfall of Enron go?
When those left to salvage Enron held an auction to raise money to pay the company's debts, the big E's were the star attraction. Sure, you could buy Aeron chairs in batches of 300 or so, but a big E -- now that was a conversation piece.
There were four of them. The first one sold for about $17,000 in London. A standing-room-only crowd in Houston went wild when another big E fetched a price of $44,000.
It went to a small Houston computer company, Microcache computers, where it was tucked into a backroom, but visitors are welcome to take a look if they find themselves in the neighborhood. The big, lighted revolving one that became known as the disco E sold for $33,000.
Lou Congelio, president of STANANDLOU Advertising, ended up with the E that stood in front of Enron headquarters on Smith Street in downtown Houston. It originally sold for $10,500 at a Dec. 3, 2002, auction to a guy who wanted to use it as a coffee table.
His wife was less than happy about that idea. So, that's when Congelio picked it up for $8,500. His E is the one that Playboy's "Women of Enron" posed with in front of the Enron building. He says they are welcome to come back for another photo shoot.
Congelio calls his E the bargain of a century, because his sign cost Enron $50,000 when it was new. He likes the novelty of owning the sign, but regrets Enron's downfall.
"Enron was at the height of fame and fortune, and they were the rock stars of the industry. Yet they plummeted so fast they had to have an auction to sell their assets, including the sign in front of the building, to pay off their creditors."
Congelio said he felt some sympathy for Ken Lay.
"I think he is a decent guy. He got stuck in the middle of all of this," he said. "But he was the keeper of the flame; he should have been paying attention."