Eight-bedroom mansion in Salt Lake to sell May 19

Updated: March 9, 2005, 7:38 PM ET
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Karl Malone is about to dump his white elephant overlooking the Salt Lake Valley.

The former NBA star's eight-bedroom mansion -- featuring half a basketball court and an indoor archery range -- has sat unsold on the real estate market for 17 months. Buyers didn't make a move even after Malone, who played 19 years in the NBA before retiring last month, lowered the price from $6.1 million to $5.7 million.

But that will change on May 19, when the home is almost assured of getting a new owner.

The nearly 20,000-square-foot mansion will be sold at an absolute auction -- meaning the home goes to the highest bidder that day, no matter if they are above or below Malone's former asking price.

"It opens up the possibility for someone getting a good bargain," said Carl Carter, a spokesman for JP King, the Alabama auction company that is conducting the auction.

Most auctions would be called if only one bid came in, but Carter said that's highly unlikely in this case, since a half-dozen serious bidders have already been identified.

The log and stone home on two acres was built in 1997 in a gated community in the foothills high above Salt Lake City in the style of a hunting lodge, complete with a soaring 30-foot-high river rock fireplace. It has five fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen and bar, game room, an outdoor pool with a 100-foot water slide and pool house.

Malone, 41, spent the first 18 years of his NBA career in Salt Lake City before playing for the Los Angeles Lakers last year. A knee injury kept the league's second-highest scorer off the court this year before he announced his retirement Feb. 13.

"I'm ready to make a smooth transition to the next phase of my life, and while I plan to maintain a smaller residence in Utah, I won't be there enough to justify a home this size," Malone said in a prepared statement. "With an auction, I'll know when it will sell and can make my plans around that."

Dumping the house also figures to save Malone a little money. The most recent property tax on the property was $28,471.

James Marchant, the agent who had the listing for a traditional sale, said while there was much interest in Malone's home, it didn't translate into a sale.

"They're aren't a lot of buyers in that price range, even fewer who are buying existing homes," he said. "It's a pretty small market."

Even though Malone's celebrity stature as a perennial NBA all-star, two-time league MVP and Olympian couldn't help sell the house in the traditional market, it could help in an auction, which automatically places a sense of urgency on the sale.

What could only make it better, one auction industry insider said, would be Malone showing up the day of the sale.

"The buyer wants to meet him" and then have their picture taken together in the driveway 10 minutes after the sale, said Ron Chaffee, dean of instruction at the Reppert School of Auctioneering in Auburn, Ind.

"The buyer would like to have a picture hanging up inside saying, "I got the Mailman's house,"' he said.

Carter said Malone hasn't indicated whether he would attend, "but most sellers do."

But this isn't an auction for celebrity gawkers. Only serious buyers need apply.

"We try to pre-qualify the people on a property like this. We don't open it like a tourist attraction," Carter said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press