Siskey Auction Draws Friends, Collectors, Spectators, Son
The estate of Richard Siskey went to auction Thursday. The Charlotte businessman was once regarded as successful and charitable. The YMCA named a location in Matthews after him, and his SouthPark mansion was a local landmark. But in December of last year, the FBI concluded he was running a Ponzi scheme. One week later, he killed himself.
The specter of Siskey's misdoings was prominent at Thursday's estate auction, although not everyone seemed affected. Among the dealers, collectors, and off-the-street spectators was Siskey's son, Richard Siskey Jr., who smiled and clapped along with friends as his father's possessions were sold off.
Among the 566 lots were Bentleys, Corvettes, crystal watches, custom furniture, paintings, sculptures, and even a life-size butler mannequin complete with silver tray and champagne flute.
Siskey Jr. waved off requests for comment, and many others in attendance did not want to be named.
One man who was willing to talk on record was Rusty Hill, who owns a local trucking company. Sitting near the front, leafing through the half-inch catalog, Hill said he was a friend of the elder Siskey. They knew each other for several years.
He was a frequent visitor to the brick mansion on the corner of Sharon Road and Sharon Lane where Siskey lived. One time, he says, Siskey let him drive one of his convertibles. Asked whether it felt strange to browse through the possessions of a now dead acquaintance, he shrugged.
"Yeah well, you have to be careful what you do," he said.
"The Bernie Madoff of Charlotte"
To his friends, Siskey did not seem like a criminal. To the FBI, though, Siskey's dealings were flagged for a number of suspicious transactions involving casinos and Siskey's personal and business accounts. The bureau began investigating one of his businesses, TSI Holdings, in 2015.
A year later, in December 2016, the FBI concluded that Siskey was, in fact, running a Ponzi scheme. He was accused of taking millions from his investors and using it to gamble and buy expensive jewelry for his wife.
According to the Charlotte Observer, since the allegations were made public, more than 100 investors have come forward, submitting claims exceeding $49 million.
Some of the items included in the auction were direct products of Siskey's fraud. Lot 22, a 5.07 carat diamond appraised at $355,000, is alluded to in an FBI affidavit.
The bureau found that in October 2013, a person with the initials M.S. invested $600,000 with Siskey, who promptly transferred $500,000 to his personnel account. Two days later, he used the money to purchase the diamond for his wife from Diamonds Direct.
Pauletta Root, a woman who came to auction with her husband, says she feels for Siskey's wife, Diane.
"I'm very sorry that that happened," she said, "And I'm very sorry for her, because I understand that she intends to pay back as much as she can, hopefully all, and I understand she's a nice person."
Someone else's money
Still, others were less willing to extend any sympathy to the family Thursday. Two elderly men who were former investors with Siskey walked out of the auction about an hour of the way through.
"I see his little son in there. He's got a lot of balls," one of the men said, declining to give his name. "Give me a break. Your daddy steals all the stuff. You come to watch them sell it. I mean it's arrogant."
The man said he had invested six figures with Siskey. Asked for his thoughts on the auction, he paused.
"Just the - the extravagance," he said, "It's easy to live like that if you're living on someone else's money."