Friday, November 17, 2017
Business

Auction of property from Universal Health Care Group set for next week

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — Need a Sub-Zero wine cooler? A 16-foot conference table? A papyrus copy of King Tut's death mask?

Those are among the thousands of items up for bid next week as auctioneers liquidate property of the once high-living Universal Health Care Group.

The St. Petersburg Medicare insurer wound up in bankruptcy court last winter after state regulators deemed Universal nearly insolvent and accused executives of financial mismanagement — including fraud and diversion of funds — under the leadership of founder Dr. Akshay Desai.

Proceeds of the auction will help pay Universal's creditors, owed more than $50 million.

"There really is something for everybody here," said Eric Rubin of Moecker Auctions, which will hold the sale in Universal's former St. Petersburg headquarters. "They definitely knew how to spend money."

Examples of Desai's eclectic, and lavish, taste abound in the 883 auction lots, which include custom artwork, hand-blown glass plates and sculptures, leather sofas and an enormous portrait of Gandhi that hung outside his office.

Employees of the Indian-born Desai knew him as a demanding boss — one lot features "a grouping of motivational posters — matte and nonglare." But there were perks, too. Up for bid are two Nostalgia tabletop popcorn machines, beanbag toss and Spin-to-Win games and a case of anti-fatigue mats. Employees could stash their snacks in nine GE and Whirlpool stainless steel refrigerators or catch the news on more than 20 large flat-screen TVs.

Desai apparently was a huge sports buff, as evidenced by several lots of chairs and tables from conference rooms named for the Rays, Bucs, Bulls and other Florida teams. Also on the block is the No. 54 jersey of hockey player Paul Ranger that hung in the "Lightning Room."

More conventional items include desks, printers, projectors, computers, shelving and monitors, some of them new-in-the-box Hewlett-Packard 22-inch LCD models.

Universal's two biggest assets — its headquarters and a condominium in nearby Signature Place — already have been sold. The condo, used by Desai and wife Seema as a weekend getaway, went for $795,000, including furnishings and artwork valued at more than $115,000.

Desai, once a major Republican fundraiser and member of the state Board of Education, still has his Snell Isle mansion. But he recently sold an adjacent bayfront house for $1.2 million to another Indian-American doctor.

It can be yours to rent for $4,900 a month.

Susan Taylor Martin can be reached at susan@tampabay.com.

 
Comments
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

As economists predicted, the tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long-lived. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Apple will postpone release of  HomePod

Apple will postpone release of HomePod

The Washington PostApple said Friday that it’s pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year.The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

ST. PETERSBURG — Good Housekeeping and St. Petersburg-based HSN have chosen five finalists for their entrepreneur competition. The partners are searching for a novel item to promote as endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, denoting reliability and ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Updated: 8 hours ago
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Published: 11/17/17
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Published: 11/17/17
Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

LARGO — Driving down West Bay Drive, you may notice some changes to downtown Largo.A new 29-unit apartment complex on Ridge Road stands finished and ready for residents. South of the complex, land that was formerly home to a community of rundown cott...
Published: 11/17/17
Want to travel solo? Local enthusiasts share stories, tips for holidays trips

Want to travel solo? Local enthusiasts share stories, tips for holidays trips

Stephanie Maisonneuve visited the walled city of Cartagena, a port city off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. She rode horseback down the city’s cobbled streets clucking past flower-filled balconies and massive, wooden arched doors. The travel enthusi...
Updated: 6 hours ago