File this one in the “all’s well that ends well” department: The Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City will get a check for $175,000 from billionaire developer Carl Icahn, the owner of the soon-to-be-imploded Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.
It was on Sunday that lawyers for Icahn reached out to Bodnar’s Auction, demanding the auction house remove the auction — which was scheduled to end Tuesday, a day before President Donald Trump was set to leave the White House — for the right to press the button to blow up the soon-to-be-former-president’s property.
All of the money raised in the auction, which was the brainchild of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr., was going to go to the Boys & Girls Club, which it appeared would be the big loser in the cancellation of the auction.
That is, until Small and Icahn hammered out a deal, according to the Atlantic City Press.
“From the beginning, we thought the auction and any other related spectacle presented a safety risk, and we were always clear we did not want to participate in any way,” an Icahn spokesperson said in a statement.
Club still gets the money
And while the auction is now off, Small is overjoyed that the Boys & Girls Club isn’t going home empty-handed.
“We agree that public health and safety are the most important things in getting the building down,” Small told the newspaper. “We do appreciate Mr. Icahn’s generous donation. We couldn’t be happier.”
It was Sunday that Joe Bodnar, owner of the auction house, first reached out to NJ Online Gambling to say the auction was over. A short time later, he posted a message on his website.
“At this time, we unfortunately have to announce the cancellation of this sale,” Bodnar wrote. “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.”
And that, it appeared, was that, until announcement of Icahn’s donation.
Small had big plans
The auction was originally 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.”
The hotel, which was built in 1984 and was once the crown jewel of Trump’s holdings in Atlantic City, was closed for good in 2014. And while it remained empty all these years, maintenance was clearly not objective 1A as pieces of the facade began falling to the street in early 2020, when it was declared a public safety hazard.
Icahn purchased the property and what was left of Trump Entertainment Resorts during bankruptcy proceedings in 2016, and he agreed with the city’s take on the structure: that it has to come down. The implosion, originally scheduled for January, has been moved to February.
And while the donation of $175,000 — which was where the online bidding was at the time Bodnar pulled the auction — is a nice chunk of change, if the auction was allowed to continue, it could’ve fetched a higher price.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Bodnar told NJ Online Gambling two weeks ago, “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. Really, the sky’s the limit.”
Trump Plaza was one of three New Jersey casinos owned by Trump. 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.