WELLSVILLE — Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner's possessions will be sold at an auction after he defaulted on a $3 million loan and filed for bankruptcy.
Gardner took out a large loan from Westcoast Lending Group Inc. in 2007 with plans to invest in a Wyoming geothermal energy project that never came to fruition. He defaulted on the loan the following year, and attorneys have been trying to collect the money ever since.
"Once somebody files for bankruptcy, that kind of thing stops," Clay Alger, an attorney representing the lender, said about collecting the money. "But we're very interested to see what his bankruptcy estate holds. We think it might have some valuable assets."
Hundreds of personal items belonging to Gardner, by order of the court, will be sold at auction. Money that is raised will go toward paying back creditors.
Gardner was the gold medal winner in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and bronze medalist in 2004 in Athens.
As a world-famous athlete, Gardner has plenty of sports memorabilia. Much of it pertained to his wrestling career, but he has other collectibles, too.
"Yeah, there are a lot of high-end autographs," said Rob Olson, with Erkelens and Olson Auctioneers in Salt Lake City.
A framed photo and the Olympic judges scoring sheet when Gardner won the gold medal in Sydney is also set to be auctioned.
"It's the only one that I know of, and here it is framed, ready for auction," Olson said. "That is definitely a unique, one-of-a-kind item which you are never going to see again."
Among the seized possessions were several vehicles, including a Ford Excursion and a couple of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
"It's decked out with the Sydney games logo," Olson said about one of the motorcycles. "It's also signed by Willy G., who is the senior VP of Harley-Davidson.
Jewelry, guns, ammo, tools, laptops, a gas grill and a safe filled with watches and other things also were seized after Gardner declared bankruptcy.
Gardner has disputed the debt, saying he was a victim of a fraudulent real estate deal. He and his attorneys are expected to meet with creditors in a couple of weeks to discuss the issue further.
Gardner also wants to stop the auction, which is scheduled for Oct. 27.
Gardner's Olympic medals were not among the items seized after he declared bankruptcy. Gardner has claimed they were stolen.
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