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swampwiz 10-28-2009 12:29 AM

Anybody gone through bankruptcy?
Soon I am going to be going through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Alas, the legislators in my state have not had the good judgement to exempt pins, so my 19 boys will be subject to be removed and sold by the trustee. :verysad:

Anyway, as I understand it, the trustee is only interested in whatever funds could be generated by the sale of such personal items of the debtor, and is always is the mood to let the debtor buy back the items post bankruptcy. The question then becomes how much the pins would be worth at auction, then minus the costs of transporting them from my home or storage (which in my case would be hundreds of miles away) and paying the auctioneers fees, etc. As I doubt that the typical trustee has had any experience with liquidating a debtor's pin, I'd like to be able to present the trustee with an honest assessment of the expectation of the net amount that would be generated from selling my pins. Some good news in general is that regular household furnishings that would be sold for maybe $200 or so at a used furniture store are never taken by a trustee as they would not be worth the trouble. I am hoping that my pins are not considered to be worth the trouble as well. Of course, bankruptcy attorneys are not much help when it comes to this, as it is quite rare that someone with a pin goes bankrupt (usually the pinball owner thins his herd to avoid bankruptcy.)

My pins are generally the old electro-mechanicals, or some early digitals. Most are in very good cosmetic condition, but of course I'd like to tell the trustee that they are in "typical" condition. As for the working condition, well, my story becomes a bit complex. About half the machines were rescued out of my flooded house (after a few months of being in a home that was open to hot humid air) in November 2005 (i.e., Hurricane Katrina), and put into a regular storage garage. I have purchased the other half in the 2 years or so following, sometimes with me actually being able to play the machine to see that it would play substantially well, and in other cases, taking the sellers word for it, and putting them into storage as well. I have not been able to actually set up the machines and see if they work (and actually of the ones I had owned before the flooding, many of them had some quirks.) And as I will be buying a home immediately before filing bankruptcy, I would not be able to get the machines set up to see if they would still run after all the environment, travel and storage, although I may after the 30 days that would take place after the formal bankruptcy filing date when I would meet with the trustee.

I fully expect less than half to be properly playing without any fixing. Of course, I would not do any work to actually fix the machines if they would just be taken from me, and would leave them in their non-working state. But I would like to keep them, and would like to be able to present the trustee with evidence of how much could be expected in auction (for a working machine or not - I am not sure if an auctioneer would even bother putting the machine together and plugging it in - and I could always leave the machines in pieces to make it more difficult for the auctioneer, etc.)

I figure that the net return for a pin would be the typical auction price minus the auction commission minus the costs of moving and doing whatever setup would be required. If I could find out what the typical value and costs are for these parameters, I could present this to the trustee and just say that I will pay this amount times 19 just to keep the machines.

One good piece of data that I got was that a substantially working Jumping Jack only fetched $60 ( This is less than the $200 or so that furniture is usually not considered worth selling, and I figure that it has got to cost at least $50 for someone just to move my pin to an auction hall, and with the auctioneer's commission, the net proceeds would be zero. But this is the only data I could gather online. I would appreciate if anyone had any advice or experience concerning this.

sleepy 10-28-2009 09:59 PM

Would they be exempt if you depended on them for income? I.e., a pinball arcade?

swampwiz 10-29-2009 02:38 AM


Originally Posted by sleepy (Post 78119)
Would they be exempt if you depended on them for income? I.e., a pinball arcade?

No, they would not be exempt.

freakofspeed 10-29-2009 04:49 AM

how about if they were dismantled ?

EnduroExpertFSR 01-25-2011 01:55 AM

just sell them to a buddy for 500 bucks then after all the storm calms down buy them back? or is that illegal? lol dont take any advice from me. thats crappy if i were in your situation id personally rather sell them out on my own rather than have some ahole swoop in and buy them all for next to nothing at auction. atleast you would be able to see that someone who respected the machines was getting them.

faralos 01-25-2011 02:39 AM

I'd hide em at a friends house and say you sold them cheap! show like a hundred $ or so to your lawyer. after all this is cleared up you can then get them back. OR cut their power cords at the cab, strip out all fuses then just say that none of them are in working condition, they may be deemed worthless then, letting you keep them!

sleepy 01-25-2011 06:07 AM

Uhhh, I don't think so.
In bankruptcy, *I think* everything, property, is audited and has to be sold at the assessed value, or has to be sold by the creditors. If the debtor tries to sell off or give anything away, they may be toast.
Remember when O.J. tried the same thing after losing the lawsuit?

faralos 01-25-2011 10:53 AM

is bankruptcy really your only option? that destroys any credit rating you had for about 7 years! how about a chapter 11? isn't that the one that lets you keep certain belongings? and I think it's easier on your credit rating, not that bankruptcy is ever good for it!
but an assessed value on a working as opposed to a non-working pin could be astronomical! that's why I mentioned the 'trashing it' method

swampwiz 01-27-2011 08:48 PM

OK, everyone. I have successfully navigated the bankruptcy. :clap: :joy: :appl:

I used the value of $50 per machine, and between my herd of 22 and about 10 neon signs and some other items, I had net assets of recoverable items of about $2500. I negotiated all this down to about $1K and paid the trustee that to buy my stuff back. I still had to officially have the bankruptcy judge auction my items in court, but fortunately no pinball collector who knew that I had all these machines in very good (cosmetic, at least) condition was there to outbid my $1K. :pint:I had to pay another $4K for my house (I had bought my home for $39K on the eve of bankruptcy, but my state, Louisiana, only has a homestead exemption of $35K. :no: ) But I ended up wiping out $140K in debt, whilst keeping my $170K retirement account intact (increased up to $210K thanks to my shrewd investing since then, except for the distributions I've been taking. :D)

I even have a few extra machines that I am planning on selling over the nest few years (I am now living mostly abroad and only home about a month or so every month.) They are:

Bally On Beam
Bally Rocket III
Gottlieb Jack In The Box
Gottlieb Big Shot
Williams Alpine Club

swampwiz 01-27-2011 08:58 PM


Originally Posted by faralos (Post 86007)
is bankruptcy really your only option? that destroys any credit rating you had for about 7 years! how about a chapter 11? isn't that the one that lets you keep certain belongings? and I think it's easier on your credit rating, not that bankruptcy is ever good for it!

No, I could have taken a distribution of my retirement accounts to payoff my creditors. :headscratch:
It was a far better option to simply be a weasel and not pay my debts. Even the great Donald Trump did it, and I don't think anyone considers him to be a loser.

I looked into the maximum discounted cost of having a bad credit record (because of increased cost of credit in the future, etc.), and it seemed to me to be no more than about $10K - and even less if a home mortgage were not to be taken within a couple of years. I've already got a new credit card, and since my debt problem was caused by a combination of Hurricane Katrina and the Great Recession, and I have a ready source in my retirement account to pay off any spending, it's just like old times. I don't plan to buy a new car for at least 5 years (if not 10!), so that's not a n issue, although I do hope to buy a decent small house in 2015 - my current home is a bit inadequate, as I want to have a grand gameroom, and now most of my pins are stuck in the garage. :no: (My dream home will be a gameroom on the ground floor that will be the size of a triple garage, with a bare minimum efficiency in the upstairs under the rafters. :))

EnduroExpertFSR 01-27-2011 09:00 PM

well im glad everything worked out for you and you got to keep your machines i used to live in Lafayette LA you near there?

swampwiz 01-28-2011 03:47 AM

I used to live in St. Bernard Parish until Katrina; now I live in the "toenail" of Louisiana - Bogalusa.

pinballparadise 01-04-2012 06:00 AM

This is a rather personal question!

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