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No Bidders After Price of Massive Mansion Dropped For Quick Sale

December 14, 1987

DALLAS (AP) _ A 30,000 square-foot mansion that has languished for four years on the sagging Texas real estate market was reduced for a quick sale at a special auction Sunday: just $1.94 million. But there were no takers.

There weren’t even any bidders.

″I really didn’t expect it to sell today,″ said owner Bernice Shanbaum. ″The real reason for this was to try and get some exposure, and we have gotten a great deal of interest from all over the country.″

This sprawling flagstone-clad icon to the Texas boom days went up for auction on the fourth day of estate sales within the walls of what is reputed to be the biggest house in a very big state.

For the auction, the mansion was piled high with furnishings, silver, Persian rugs and china. A room of about 100 people kept bidding active, but no one even bothered to put down $1,000 for a bidding card.

Bidding was to have begun at $1 million, and the announcement that there were no bidders was a letdown for some who came to gawk.

″I was disappointed that the home didn’t sell - that’s really what I came here for,″ said Kay Pratt, a broker who bought a few dinner plates. ″It would make a great private club, but I doubt they could get the zoning for it. I think it will be here for a while.″

Built in 1964 by Theodore Shanbaum, the house is a testament to the flashy, some might say gaudy, design of the period. Wide rooms, low ceilings, paneling and mirrored tiles are hallmarks of the home, which even real estate agent Jack Williams admits has ″a case of the uglies.″

But agents and auctioneers have promoted the potential of the mansion, which has 19 bedrooms, four kitchens, indoor and outdoor pools, garage space for five cars and a parking lot that will accommodate 75 more.

The house, next door to the estate of billionaire H. Ross Perot, also comes complete with 17 bathrooms. Shanbaum once said he put in all that plumbing because he grew up in a Chicago tenement where six families shared a single bathroom.

He doubled the size of the north Dallas mansion in 1968, and it had an original asking price of $2.75 million when it went on the market in the early 1980s after the couple divorced.

Aside from the price, there were other factors working against the sale.

Much of the furniture was removed and the house sat unattended while the price of oil started a decline that shook the foundations of the Texas economy. Many of those who once could afford such a home were hard-hit by the crash.

″It really went downhill after a couple of years of neglect,″ said Norman Garrett, president of Garrett Galleries, which is handling the sale of the house. ″They’ve spent thousands of dollars getting it ready to sell.″

Garrett’s also brought in the contents of ″three or four″ other estates for sale to help market the mansion and its contents.

In the first three days of the four-day sale, he estimated, the goods brought bids of at least $500,000, most ″on the low end of our estimates.″

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