Despite hiring specialty auctioneers who flew out from Gadsden, AL, and setting a minimum bid at about half the asking price Tuesday afternoon, one of the state's priciest properties failed to draw a bid at auction inside the 13,650 square-foot Mercer Island mansion.
Managed auction firm J.P King said four unnamed, registered bidders had handed over $100,000 personal checks before they arrived. One had parked his black Lamborghini in front of the six-car garage at the bottom of a gated, winding driveway.
"You have an opportunity to own a lifestyle," auctioneer Lanny Thomas said, preparing the crowd before he began.
After auctioning a hand-blown vase created by local Mercer Island artist Brad Stern for charity (to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital), Thomas opened the bidding at $30 million but steadily dropped the opening bid until he reached the minimum $15.5 million reserved price. The auction will now take place behind closed doors between J.P. King and the four registered bidders.
"There's been considerable interest in this property," said J.P. King spokesman Tommy Board. "The negotiations over a sales price will take place over the next 30 to 60 days."
Owned by David and Becky Sandwith, the couple purchased the waterfront property in 2004 and, according to the Wall Street Journal, poured $30 million of their own money into the home, creating an opulent 7-bedroom, 11 1/4-bathroom luxury palace.
Curious to see the event and busy networking with potential clients, Lee Roberts, Managing Broker of Vizor Realty, and Realtor Lauren Smith of Coldwell Banker Bain both agreed the auction for the high-end home was a good bet in the depressed housing market.
"An auction draws worldwide buyers, a wider audience," said Roberts.
"The market is trying to find out two things: First, how badly they need to sell and, two, who needs a house. The previous way was too limited. If you got a low offer, there wasn't much you could do ... it's not as aggressive as these auctions are."
Mercer Island is consistently and is home to the most expensive homes sold in the state since 2009, according to MLS sales records. Both of those homes also sold at auction: In 2009, the Proctor Estate sold for $15.675 million after it was once listed at $39.5 million two years prior. In 2010, the Lytle Mansion sold for $12 million. It was listed for $40 million in 2005.
The home is not unlike other local waterfront palaces that have sold in recent years. The interior of the home includes a "professional" kitchen with two sub-zero refrigerators, a "world-class" theatre, two elevators, a living room with 25-foot ceilings and a pillared veranda and a two-hundred bottle wine room.
The exterior of the home is also nothing to smirk about. It features a three-level limestone terrace, a resort-style pool with nine water fountains, an outdoor hidden TV lift to fit a 152" plasma screen, and a "boat house" that could accommodate a 30-ft. boat, two jet skis and a 140-ft. yacht.
(Ed. Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly states the Proctor Landing Estate was offered for $45 million in 2006. In fact, the estate was offered for $39.5 million in 2007. Mercer Island Patch regrets the error.)