Monday, October 15, 2012
Items from Schilling's co. shown before auction
TIMONIUM, Md. -- Computer towers once used by 38 Studios employees are lined up in neat rows, tagged and ready for sale. A hand-recognition security system and sleek touch-screen tablets are on the block, too, poignant reminders of the high-tech ambitions the company once fostered. A pool table where employees might have idled away time while brainstorming ideas can be had for a price, not to mention Xbox 360 and Wii consoles and shelves of video games.
The products, from expensive technology to mundane office knick-knacks, helped lay the foundation of 38 Studios, the video game company founded by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling that was once promising but now is in bankruptcy.
The company is selling off all its assets in separate auctions planned for Tuesday in Maryland and next week at the company's downtown Providence, R.I., headquarters, where Schilling's team was working on the "massively multiplayer online game" that was critical for 38 Studios' success.
The products were on display Monday at a Timonium, Md., office building that once housed Big Huge Games, a studio acquired by Schilling's 38 Studios in 2009. A separate auction will be held to sell off the company's intellectual property, including the unfinished game, said Richard Land, the court-appointed receiver for 38 Studios.
Beyond the predictable offerings of computer equipment are audio conferencing systems, large flat-screen TVs and touch monitors that allow users to draw directly on the screen with a special pen. A motion-capture suit whose inertial sensors record a wearer's movements is for sale, along with the banal ins-and-outs of office life -- coffee makers, chairs, a conference room table and even a couch.
"If you want to buy 25 Xbox controllers, you can buy 25 Xbox controllers," Sal Corio, a Rhode Island-based auctioneer who is handling the sale, said cheerfully.
But, he said, he understood the human toll associated with the company's bankruptcy, from the employees who relocated to take new jobs to the crews who cleaned the offices to the caterers who fed the workers.
"It's sad too. As much as I enjoy my business and love what I do," he said, "it's sad to see a company go out of business."
Rhode Island had lured the company from Massachusetts with a $75 million loan guarantee, hoping it could help kick-start the state's stagnant economy and deliver hundreds of well-paying jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue. Instead, the company imploded, laying off all its employees in the spring and filing for bankruptcy protection.
How much the items will sell for is anyone's guess, though Corio said the auctions already have generated excitement and that his website has gotten thousands of hits related to the sales. Both Corio and Land said they didn't expect the proceeds to reach $75 million, the amount the state guaranteed in loans on the company's behalf. Rhode Island is by far the company's biggest creditor. It's likely on the hook for some $100 million related to the deal, including interest.
Corio said he retains the right to reject any bid he thinks is too low, especially because another auction is planned next week in Providence.
"If an offer is ridiculous, I'm going to send it to Providence, where I'm going to have 9 zillion people," he said.
38 Studios and 38 Studios Baltimore made separate bankruptcy filings in June. 38 Studios, which at one point was burning through about $5 million per month owes $150.7 million and has assets of $21.7 million, according to court filings. 38 Studios Baltimore owes more than $121.4 million, with assets of more than $335,000, which includes the value of the items being auctioned this week.
Associated Press Writer Erika Niedowski in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.
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