EAST GREENWICH, R.I. — The assets that jewelry company Alex and Ani left behind at its Rhode Island headquarters in June have been rapidly selling in an online auction, and have garnered nearly 900 bidders looking to grab everything from memorabilia, to artwork, to decor from shuttered stores, and distribution equipment.
Sal Corio, the owner of SJ Corio Company in Warwick, is conducting the auction that he said is expected to close around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. He declined to provide any financials on the total amount raised through bids due to his agreement with the property’s landlord, but said it was “a big sale.”
“We had under 600 bidders for Benny’s,” said Corio, comparing the jewelry company that was founded in Cranston to the iconic local retailer that closed its 31 stores in 2017. “There’s surely a story about Alex and Ani. But there was certainly a story about Benny’s, too. So I’m not sure what it is here, but this is bigger than Benny’s.”
Corio oversaw two auctions of Benny’s items in 2018 and 2019. Items for sale ranged from office equipment, furniture, and cash registers that remained from the family business founded in 1924.
There were more than 1,800 lots in Alex and Ani’s auction, and all of the assets are located at the company’s former warehouse at 10 Briggs Drive in East Greenwich. Store fixtures, computers, office and distribution equipment, printers, and many other items were abandoned by Alex and Ani’s executives in June, and left for the property’s landlord to deal with.
As of Tuesday afternoon, some of the most interesting items that sold include a box of approximately 160 Alex and Ani beach towels that sold for $550, an antique spotlight that went for $525, and a 9-foot branded wooden sign that sold for $150. Larger items went for thousands of dollars, such as an air compressor that sold for $5,000.
Corio previously estimated that the bagging equipment the company left behind is worth “more than $200,000″ if purchased new.
For the first time in the company’s nearly 20-year history, it does not have an office in Rhode Island, where it was founded by Carolyn Rafaelian. She named the company after her two eldest daughters, and the company had a spectacular rise. By the mid-2010s, Alex and Ani was the fastest growing company in America.
Rafaelian, who grew up in and continues to reside in Cranston, R.I., no longer has any ties to the company. In late 2022, she launched Metal Alchemist, a new jewelry brand creating American-made products manufactured in Rhode Island.
In a series of interviews, Rafaelian said she was “pushed out” of her company. Alex an Ani is now controlled by majority owner London-based Lion Capital, which controls 65 percent of the company and was founded by wealthy English financier Lyndon Lea, and Bathing Club LLC, which controls the remaining 35 percent and is owned by criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos.
While Rafaelian was still involved with Alex and Ani, she placed her personal totem, a panther, everywhere in the office. Some of these 23-inch black ceramic figurines were included in the auction, and sold for up to $170 each.
In June 2021, Alex and Ani filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Since then, it’s left behind a trail of unpaid bills from small business owners, its landlord, and the town of East Greenwich. In 2021, the company owed East Greenwich $176,000 in taxes. But as of last week, the company owed the town more than $251,000 in back taxes.
The future of Alex and Ani is unclear. CEO Scott Burger has not responded to the Globe’s request for comment.
Corio was initially hired in May by Alex and Ani’s Chief Operating Officer Norm Viet as the company was planning to outsource its warehousing and fulfillment services to Stord, an Atlanta-based company. When he arrived at the plant in late June, he was locked out, and “never heard a word from Alex and Ani after that.”
Days later, Corio said he spoke to the property’s landlord, Christopher Leahey, who Corio said is “owed millions” by Alex and Ani through the end of their lease in 2025. Leahey, Corio said, asked Corio to move forward with the auction.
Alex and Ani once employed a team of at least 300 in East Greenwich. In June, Burger told the Globe that the company had 50 Rhode Island-based employees.
This summer, the company closed 20 stores. At its peak, the company operated more than 70 stores.