Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press
It has a shooting range, two swimming pools, 11 baths and great curb appeal (although no curbs). But selling a house listed at nearly $6 million is never a slam dunk, so on Thursday afternoon former Jazz star Karl Malone's house was put on the auction block.
"Five million," shouted auctioneer Craig King as he optimistically started the bidding. Eight minutes later, less time than it takes to play a quarter of basketball, Malone's mansion was sold to the highest bidder at $2.5 million, plus a 10 percent commission. It was what is known in the business as an "absolute auction," which means someone is guaranteed to go home with a new house, no matter how low the high bid is.
The winner, calling his bids in by phone, was Malone's agent, Dwight Manley of Newport Beach, Calif. Manley, who is also a real estate investor, is now the proud owner of the house Malone put on the market after moving to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003.
"In an ordinary sales process it can take years to sell a house in this class," said Carl Carter, spokesman for the Alabama real estate auction company J.P. King.
Twelve registered bidders, each one required to show up with a $100,000 cashier's check to indicate their sincerity and financial credibility to bid, vied for the house, located in Salt Lake's high Avenues. Many of the bidders brought along real estate agents and friends, "and interior designers and manicurists for all I know," Carter said.
Most of the bidders were from Utah, including RV mogul Ardell Brown, and Joe and Joan Steed of Duchesne County. "It would make a nice little convention center," noted the Steeds' friend and adviser Vince Isbell about Malone's house.
Isbell was standing in Malone's former master bedroom during the informal tours before the auction began. The 19,000-square-foot house is now completely empty, except for the fixtures, the basketball hoop in the basement and the 10-by-10-foot bed in the master bedroom.
It's a house definitely built for a tall man. Several of the sinks are 4 feet high, and the clothes rods in Karl's closet are 7 feet off the ground.
Although you might think that a famous person's house might sell for a lot of money just for the name-dropping factor, Carter says that a famous name will only go so far. For the auctioneers "it's something to hang your hat on," he said. "But when it comes down to dollars-and-cents buying decisions, they're buying the house not as a novelty or a museum piece but as a place to live."
The J.P. King company auctions lots of fancy spreads, including recreational ranches, hunting plantations, golf courses and Barbara Mandrell's house in Nashville. This summer they'll auction off the Colorado mansion of Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton. "Trophy and high-end homes," as auctioneer King explained before the auction began.
King put a good spin on Thursday's auction results. "We had a strong crowd, and the bidding started out very briskly, so it was clear from the outset that we'd have a good sale."
King used the familiar rapid-fire auctioneer's chant to move the bidding along. Something like: "Two million five, I'm at two-five, give me two-six, I'm at two-five, I'm at two-six, where, two-six, I'm at two million five, two million six, here we go, anyone else, two-six, would you go two-six," and on and on. When it was clear that two-six was not going to be an option, King called out "going once, going twice, it's going, going, gone" and that was it.
Dwight Manley now owns a house with a five fireplaces, two laundry rooms and a mural of an eagle swooping down on a terrified-looking fish. As for the Malones, Carter says they're building a house in Louisiana."He has other things going on," Carter explained.
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