Vick bankruptcy issues arise
BUFORD, Ga. -- Anyone in the market for an eight-bedroom, 11-bath home owned by one of the most notorious quarterbacks in NFL history?
Well, it's still available.
Michael Vick's gated-community home in suburban Atlanta went up for auction Tuesday with a minimum price of $3.2 million -- a half-million dollars less than Vick paid before he moved into the luxurious dwelling in 2005. But no one showed with the qualifying payment of $160,000, which was required just to start the bidding.
Vick is in the closing months of a nearly two-year sentence for his role in funding a dogfighting ring, a criminal case that left the once-celebrated Atlanta Falcons quarterback in financial shambles. He is scheduled to be released July 20, and could be transferred to home confinement as early as May 21.
A pair of real estate agents attended the scheduled auction, held behind closed doors at a lawyer's office amid a sprawl of strip malls, hotels and office buildings surrounding the Mall of Georgia. But they were merely interested parties, not bidders.
"It is the economy that is hitting the price of the houses," said Narender Reddy, president of Sterling Realty Services and affiliated with Metro Brokers GMAC. "I'm sure most people think the $3.2 million price is fixed higher than the market can fetch."
Vick's lakefront home in Sugarloaf Country Club is being sold as part of his bankruptcy case, with the goal of paying off a portion of his massive debts. He lived in the home for only two years, installing a custom-made bar, workout room and an indoor golf simulator, before moving back to Virginia to deal with his dogfighting case.
Attorneys and real estate agents waited privately for a possible buyer to show, then called off the auction in less than an hour when it became apparent no one was interested.
Ross Reeves, an attorney for Vick's unsecured creditors, said he was disappointed but wasn't expecting the sale to take a big chunk out of the money owed to his clients. He said about $3 million must go to the mortgage company, a secured creditor, to satisfy the remainder of the loan and related costs.
The company handling the listing, Funari Realty, said in a statement that it could not discuss sale details because negotiations were ongoing.
Meanwhile, federal authorities in Virginia filed court papers Tuesday objecting to a plan to bring Vick from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., to testify at a bankruptcy hearing in his hometown of Norfolk.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Santoro said last month that Vick must testify in person at an April 2 hearing, even if the suspended NFL star's attorneys have to get a court order to make it happen. The judge said he would reject Vick's bankruptcy plan if he fails to appear.
But the federal prosecutor's office in Alexandria, Va., said Vick's testimony could be "accomplished by alternative means" and argued that the transfer would raise all sorts of logistical and security concerns.
"Mr. Vick's crime continues to engender strong feelings by members of the society. The possibility of protests has to be evaluated, anticipated and planned for by the Marshals Service," the court papers said.
Santoro scheduled a hearing Wednesday on the matter.
Vick's bankruptcy lawyers, Peter Ginsburg and Paul Campsen, did not immediately respond to telephone messages left by The Associated Press.
Reddy said he represents a client who offered $3.2 million a couple of months ago, but withdrew it when told the home was going up for auction. He's not sure if his prospective buyer would still be willing to pay that price after no one else was offered as much Tuesday.
"The market is changing every day," Reddy said. "Even I think $3.2 million is a little high. I will have to talk to my client about that."
While still furnished, the three-story home has largely been stripped of anything that would remind a prospective buyer of its notorious owner. The carpet in one bottom floor has a giant "7" -- Vick's number -- but his trophies, keepsakes and pictures have been removed.
"My client is interested in the home not because it's Michael Vick's home," Reddy said. "He likes the floor plan. He likes the lake view. The house is very well built. It's a beautiful home. It has all the features you would want in a luxury home."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press