Sotheby's
Sotheby's is auctioning a 112-lot collection of antiques owned by former Lehman Brothers President Joe Gregory (Sotheby's)

We've all done it. When times are hard we stare wistfully at some of our most treasured possessions, wondering what we can get for them down at the pawn shop.

So it's no great surprise that Joseph Gregory, former president of the now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers, has turned to Sotheby's auction house to sell off his valuable collection of antiques.

Okay, so it's a bit different from nipping down to Cash4Gold with your sovereign ring, but the fundamental desire to raise a few bob is the same.

There are 112 lots in "The Collection of Niki & Joe Gregory" displayed on Sotheby's website. Values of the items range from estimates between $400 and $400,000 and they go on sale on 24 October in New York.

Among the lots are two pairs of George III cut-glass decanters from the latter half of the 18th century; a pair of Italian neoclassical blue and white-painted and carved console tables from circa 1780; and a Dutch Delft blue and white garniture of five vases and covers from circa 1723-43.

The item with the highest top estimate of $400,000 is "an important Queen Ann brass inlaid stained burr maple and yewwood desk-and-bookcase attributed to Coxed and Woster from circa 1715".

(Because, naturally, nobody should be seen dead with an unimportant Queen Ann brass inlaid stained burr maple and yewwood desk-and-bookcase attributed to Coxed and Woster from circa 1715.)

Gregory was deputy at Lehman Brothers to the bank's chief executive Dick Fuld, known as The Gorilla for his chest-beating rants, who was also a close friend.

He worked at Lehman for decades, right up to a couple of months ahead of its collapse in 2008 under the strain of its exposure to the toxic sub-prime mortgage market.

According to Businessweek, the wealthy banker had to lay off the 29 staff that worked at his $22m home in Long Island, which he sold along with other properties in his portfolio.

It was from his Long Island home that he would commute to work in a helicopter on occasion. If the weather was bad, he used his seaplane instead.

In 2007, Gregory's remuneration package was worth $26m. Trouble is, most of this was in Lehman stock, which is now worth the sum total of zilch. Ergo the phonecall to Sotheby's, presumably.