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What the Hell is a Bank Doing With Mini-Japanese Sculptures?

When a community bank gets seized by the FDIC, you expect its non-deposit assets to include some computers, office chairs, bank vaults, free lollipops, stress balls, stuff like that. But Bank of Lincolnwood, a Chicago-area community bank that was shut down last year, has some peculiar, and expensive, collectibles in its coffers.

Most of the stuff, which is being auctioned off by the FDIC, include miniature 17th century Japanese ivory sculptures, known Netsuke. The most expensive of these, with a bid over $75,000, is a rare ivory netsuke of a recumbent boar carved by Masanao of Kyoto, who “was active about the middle of the 18th century and widely regarded as the most innovative genius of all netsuke carvers,” according to the web site of the auction.

Another sought-after item is a framed patch that was on board the Apollo 13 spacecraft during its flight around the moon in 1970. That’s going for nearly $1,500. All told, there’s over $150,000 worth of stuff being auctioned. Why a bank with only two branches would have these things, we don’t know, but would love to find out.

Bank of Lincolnwood, which was led by Clyde Engle, was closed last year by the FDIC. Republic Bank of Chicago assumed its deposits and assets, which totaled more than $200 million. Apparently, the buyer didn't want the Netsuke.

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