Will Michael Jordan’s House Auction Bring Chicago Another Three-Peat?

MJ’s Highland Park mansion is the third big one to go on the block in the past couple years.

Photography: Courtesy of Redfin

Michael Jordan is putting his Highland Park mansion up for auction after a year and a half of having no luck getting it sold the conventional way. That means the superstar who gave Chicago a pair of three-peat NBA championships in the 1990s is back to give us one more three-peat: Jordan’s 56,000-square-foot former home is the third local mega-priced mansion to go up for auction in the past couple of years.

Jordan initially listed the 7.4-acre estate at $29 million in February 2012. The price later came down to $21 million. Then last week, the Wall Street Journal was first to report that the estate will be auctioned November 22. The article quoted Jordan saying that “some of the best things in the world are sold at auction, and I’ve seen that this is the beginning of a trend for selling unique, one-of-a-kind homes.”

I’m hardly the man to contradict His Airness, but the trend hasn’t yet caught on in Chicago. The two big-ticket mansions here that have gone that route have remained unsold after their auctions.

Le Grand Reve, a lavish 35,000-square-footer in western Winnetka, went on the market in 2009 at $32 million. It went up for auction in 2011, handled by the same New York firm that is now doing Jordan’s auction, Concierge Auctions. Curiously, even though that auction was called “absolute,” where the item for sale absolutely sells, with no provision for the seller to reject bids, the Winnetka property didn’t sell at auction. It was back on the open market in 2012, and according to public records, had not changed hands as of Tuesday.

In Burr Ridge, Villa Taj an uber-ostentatious home with 30,000 square feet inside and 15,000 feet of covered terrace, had been on the market at $25 million in 2009. It was scheduled to go up for auction late that year with a minimum bid of $6.265 million. The auction didn’t pan out, the house wound up flooded with six million gallons of water, and the owners wound up losing the home in foreclosure. According to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, the holder of the deed sold the home to a trust in December for $3.1 million.

Other than those, there haven’t been any top-of-the-market homes auctioned here, says Rick Levin, a longtime Chicago auctioneer of real estate and other items. The firm doing Jordan’s auction lists several pages of results on its website. Many of them are multi-million-dollar properties in second-home locations like Hawaii, Aspen, and Montana. None are here.

None of this means Jordan’s home can’t be the first Chicago mega-estate to sell at auction. Number 23 has done lots of things that defied the odds. The question, several Chicago real estate sources said, is will he be willing to accept a price that is far lower than he’s been asking for the house? An auction is, Levin says, “a logical way to find out what the market is willing to pay for an unusual, hard-to-price asset like the home of this seller [Jordan].”

In an e-mail, Concierge’s president, Laura Brady, said that “in an auction, the sale price is purely determined by the bidders. Prior list price, reproduction cost, and appraisals may set context to the value of a property, but when it comes to an auction, it’s all about who registers and how high the bidding goes.”

If you’re thinking of bidding, here are some things to know: The auction’s location and time are being kept confidential, she said, and potential bidders must wire a $250,000 deposit in order to participate, and then be vetted by Deutsche Bank “in order to be approved for bidding” and then told where the auction will be held. There is no minimum bid and no “reserve,” which is like a secret minimum price, where the seller gets to say that the final bid isn’t sufficient and the item won’t be sold.

Selling without a reserve suggests that even if the auction’s bidders top out at a price that is only a fraction of the $21 million Jordan’s been asking, he’s ready to accept and let go of the place he’s owned since 1992.

 
The former home of R. Kelly
R. Kelly’s former Olympia Fields home

In other celebrity real estate news, the Olympia Fields mansion that R. Kelly lost in foreclosure this year sold October 16 for $587,100. That’s about a third of the $1.5 million he was asking for it in 2011, and just 16 percent of the $3.5 million mortgage he had since 1999 on the three-acre property and 14,000-square-foot house.

Kelly bought the six-acre site in 1997, but the records don’t say for how much. The house, which has five bedrooms, seven baths, and an indoor pool, was finished in 1999, the year Kelly took out the $3.5 million mortgage. JP Morgan Chase started foreclosure in 2011 and according to news reports last spring, eventually bought the title at auction for $950,000, although that transaction does not appear in the public records for the property.

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