The charitable auction to press the button to blow up the former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City — the namesake property of the original owner, President Donald Trump — has been cancelled.
The reason for the cancellation? According to Joe Bodnar, the owner of Bodnar’s Auction, the Edison-based auction house handling the bidding process, it’s because lawyers for Carl Icahn, the current owner of the property, demanded the plug be pulled.
“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 auction was the brainchild of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. and all proceeds were set to go to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. The current bid was sitting at $175,000, with a live auction set to happen Tuesday. But now, it’s over.
Bodnar had previously said the “pushing of the button” could conceivably have been for real, as in the person pressing the button would’ve actually imploded the falling-apart boardwalk eyesore, although from the get-go it was generally assumed the button-press would be symbolic.
Boys & Girls Club was to benefit
“I think it’s over,” Bodnar told NJOG. “I’m told the city had three or four meetings with the attorneys, they went into court, I’m to understand, but I was never briefed on what happened in those meetings. Bottom line is that they weren’t going to work with the city to make this happen. I got a cease and desist letter, so it’s [the auction]got to come down, and that’s that.”
While the destruction of the property will go on as planned sometime in February, it won’t end up benefiting the Atlantic City chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.
“It’s a real shame, as it’s the Boys and Girls Club who gets the loss here,” Bodnar said.
As a result of the cancellation, Bodnar has put a link on the notice on his website directing people to the Boys & Girls Club donation page.
“We are extremely saddened that we must now take down Tuesday’s sale,” Bodnar wrote. “The high bid was at $175,000 and that money would have greatly benefitted the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City at a time when it is needed most. We are now asking that everyone who reads this reaches into their hearts and donates to the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City. Let’s help them not only reach this amount they would have made from this sale, but surpass it!”
Mayor wanted to stick it to Trump
The auction was announced in December by Mayor Small, who said at the time, “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. I wanted to use the demolition of this place to raise money for charity.”
And the demolition will still happen, regardless of the charity auction getting nixed by the lawsuits. The live auction was set to end just one day before President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, and Trump’s term will end.
The hotel, which was built in 1984, was shuttered in 2014. And in early 2020, it became more than an eyesore; it became a danger, as parts of the building’s facade started falling off the hotel. At that point, it was officially declared a public safety hazard.
Icahn, who assumed control of the property in 2016 in bankruptcy proceedings against Trump Entertainment Resorts, was taken to court by the city in an effort to get him to take the building down, and he quickly agreed, with the two sides coming together to implode the building in early February.
Clearly, however, Icahn’s lawyers were not on board with the charitable portion of the program.
Others, however, were excited at the promise of taking down the president’s former property, such as Hollywood icon Bette Midler.
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
Previously, Bodnar said he expected the auction to hit over $500,000.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and the fact it’s already at $175,000 with two weeks left means it’s going to hit $300,000 no problem, probably $500,000, and who knows, that million might be in sight,” Bodnar told NJOG two weeks ago. “Really, the sky’s the limit.”
Trump Plaza was one of three New Jersey casinos owned by the soon-to-be-former president. The other two were the Taj Mahal, which is now home to the Hard Rock Casino, and the Trump Marina, which is now the Golden Nugget.