By SERENA DAI
A colorful inflatable bounce house, a smoking grill and two jumpsuit-wearing Elvis Presley impersonators. It wasn’t a carnival, but an auction of items connected to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
A life-sized statue of Elvis and a neon “Governor Blagojevich” sign were among the hot items auctioned off Thursday after Blagojevich’s campaign fund stopped paying for their storage.
A suburban Chicago storage facility evicted the statue, which was bought for $20,500, along with campaign buttons, banners, files and other material connected to Illinois’ latest convicted ex-governor. Other items sold were a $600 painting of Abraham Lincoln, a $120 plaque rewarding Blagojevich for political leadership and $1,650 framed autographed photo of Elvis.
“It was between Oprah and this,” said Shelley Shanson, 63, of Houston, who was visiting a friend in the Chicago area and wanted to see the Blagojevich auction for herself. “And this won out.”
The owner of Boyer-Rosene Moving & Storage said the seven wooden storage units holding the items hadn’t been paid for in more than a year. The items first began being stored at facility in Arlington Heights about eight years ago, or right around when Blagojevich was elected governor.
The company has said auction profits will go to Children’s Memorial Hospital.
A federal jury convicted Blagojevich on Tuesday on one count of lying to the FBI, but deadlocked on 23 counts. Federal prosecutors are expected to retry Blagojevich.
Telephone and e-mail messages left Thursday for Blagojevich publicist Glenn Selig and attorneys for the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund were not returned.
Selig has said the units belong to Friends of Blagojevich, not the former governor, and that the fund’s finances are frozen as part of his legal case. He said Blagojevich has no idea what is in the units or whether anything there even belongs to him.
Thursday’s auction attracted several people looking for Elvis memorabilia, as Blagojevich was a known fan of the singer. Along with the statue and signed photo, cardboard cutouts of Elvis were on hand.
“The only good thing about him was that he was an Elvis fan,” said 72-year-old Helen Newsome of Algonquin.
Most of the auctioned goods weren’t so flashy. Furniture, boxes of files and unmarked videotapes took up most of the auction with a starting price of $25.
Anthony Jenkins, 48, of Chicago said he came because he considers the items part of history. Jenkins bought a box of unmarked videotapes.
“The final chapter has not been written,” Jenkins said. “I want to say I had some part in it.”