June 10, 2002 12:00 PM

Anyone who has ever had to unload $20 million worth of residential real estate real fast can appreciate Linda Lay’s dilemma: What to do with a furniture collection that includes a mahogany-and-mother-of-pearl pool table and a life-size sculpture of Eve? Lay, 57, wife of former Enron chairman Ken Lay, 60, took a page from his playbook and held a public offering, converting a building she owns near Houston’s upscale River Oaks enclave into Jus’ Stuff, a shop stocked with accoutrements from the Lays and friends. “Mrs. Lay wants to stay out of the limelight,” a spokeswoman says of the former legal secretary. “But she also wants to continue to have a career.”

And, it seems, to raise cash. Last January on the Today show, a tearful Lay claimed that the couple were “fighting for liquidity” after Enron’s stock plummeted. (Yet her husband was paid more than $31 million a year and last summer sold more than $37 million in stock.) While no one has yet coughed up the $5,000 Lay is asking for that pool table or $13,000 for the Eve sculpture, other items, including a $700 crystal Baccarat bowl and some $8 Italian tiles, are selling briskly. Understandably, few ex-Enron staffers feel like chipping in. Says Linda Roberts, who lost her home and retirement savings and was laid off last December when the company imploded: “People got run out of Enron with no way to pay rent. Those people had to have garage sales.”

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