Larry Doucet made the 250-mile roundtrip from Grayson, Ky., to Frankfort for a chance to bid on two Case pocket knives emblazoned with former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s name.
He was among 423 people who registered to bid at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ biannual auction Monday, which featured 16 Case knives and 13 Remington rifles turned over by Farmer during an investigation that ended with the former University of Kentucky basketball star sentenced to 27 months in a West Virginia federal penitentiary.
That did not deter Doucet, 50, from paying $950 total for the first two Case knives up for auction. They’ll join other pieces of University of Kentucky memorabilia and Case knives collected through the years.
“I’m a Case knife collector,” Doucet said. “When I saw they were coming up, I didn’t even know they existed so it felt good to get something I didn’t know existed out there.”
The auction netted $21,415 for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, considerably more than the $15,903 spent for 25 rifles and 52 knives by the agency in 2008 for the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture conference in Lexington. The guns and knives sold Monday were intended for visiting agriculture officials during the conference, but instead were kept by Farmer.
The nearly $22,000 will be spent on an urban community garden project for the Boys and Girls Club in west Louisville, set to begin in a few weeks, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said.
“We’re going to use that as a working classroom, as a lab to not only provide fresh fruit and vegetables to the Boys and Girls Club members in Louisville,” Comer said. “We’re also going to teach them how to grow food and hopefully have projects where they can sell food and make money.”
Potentially owning a piece of Kentucky political infamy proved a draw for a number of first timers at the Fish and Wildlife auction.
Kevin Burgin, 46, was not surprised at the crowd given Farmer’s time on the UK basketball team, which included the 1992 squad dubbed “The Unforgettables.”
“They’re still valuable for the memorabilia,” Burgin, of Shelbyville, said of the items.
He, like others, was interested in buying a Case knife, though he had an eye on the Remington rifles as well. Unlike the knives featuring Farmer’s name on a blade, the guns only featured a Kentucky Proud logo stamped on the barrel.
Still, Farmer’s personal rifle — its serial number ended in 32, his jersey number at UK — fetched $1,400. The winning bidder declined interview requests.
The guns cost KDA $449 each, according to an audit that eventually led to Farmer’s legal downfall.