The auction for the right to witness the Feb. 17 implosion of the old Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino ended with a little less of a bang than hoped for.
The 10 pairs of front row tickets to the event — which includes a VIP get-together with city officials (yawn), as well as a night’s stay at either the Ocean Casino Resort or Hard Rock Hotel and Casino along with a $200 dining credit, plus a second night’s stay at Caesars and another $200 dining credit — ended up being quite a bargain for the winners, most of whom spent between $500 and $600 for the package.
In total, over $16,000 was raised in the viewing package auction to witness former President Donald Trump’s former centerpiece property come tumbling down, which included a $10,000 donation from Hard Rock. All of the monies — in addition to another $175,000 donated by Carl Icahn, the current owner of the property — are being donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City.
“Overall, it’s an added bonus to what we were able to accomplish with the original auction, in which Icahn donated at the end,” said Joe Bodner, the owner of Bodnar’s Auction, the Edison auction house that handled the sale. “And the people who bought the tickets got a great deal.”
The end of the (auction) road
With less than two weeks to go until the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino goes the ashes to ashes, dust to dust route, this auction marks the end of what ended up being a contentious battle for a charitable cause.
Back in December, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. announced an auction to literally blow up the crumbling structure. The winner of the auction — which was also handled by Bodnar — would get the chance to press the button that would implode the old hotel.
“Some of Atlantic City’s iconic moments happened there, but on his way out, Donald Trump openly mocked Atlantic City, saying he made a lot of money and then got out,” said Small at the time. “I wanted to use the demolition of this place to raise money for charity.”
Bids quickly rolled in as the story went national. Some celebrities — like Bette Midler — indicated they might be interested in winning the auction. There was also a (failed) online push to get the adult film actress Stormy Daniels the opportunity to press the button.
Guess what? #AtlanticCity is auctioning off the chance to push the button that blows up the #TrumpPlazaHotelAndCasino. Welp, there goes my daughter's inheritance. Sorry, honey, Mommy’s got an itchy demo finger!
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) December 18, 2020
Eventually, the top online bid got up to $175,000 with days to go before the auction went live, complete with a bevy of “do I hears?” to culminate in a rousing “sold!” At this point, Bodnar estimated the final bid would be north of $500,000, maybe even tickling a million.
Pulling the plug
And that’s when the suits balked. Specifically, the lawyers for Icahn, the billionaire developer, who kindly asked Bodnar to cease and desist.
“At this time, we unfortunately have to announce the cancellation of this sale,” Bodnar wrote on his website. “Shortly after announcing the sale, the attorneys for IEP AC Plaza LLC, a subsidiary controlled by Icahn Enterprises, sent a letter stating that IEP AC Plaza LLC was not on board with the situation and would in no way participate or help facilitate, citing safety issues. After exhausting every avenue to bring the parties together to make this exciting event happen, we received the final decision from IEP AC Plaza LLC that we must cease and desist.”
The next day, Icahn agreed to donate $175,000 to the Boys & Girls Club, which was a nice gesture, but clearly less than would’ve been raised if the auction were allowed to continue.
After the cancellation, Small hatched the “viewing party” plan, and some $16,000 later, the auction portion of the Trump Plaza implosion is now, finally and officially, over. Again.
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