Bubil: $4 million at auction was just not enough


It is one thing to be nice. It is quite another to risk $4 million to be nice.

That is what Osprey resident Ron Allen did on Jan. 31 during the attempted auction of the DeVita Ranch near Venice. Craig King of J.P. King Auction Co. was in full auctioneer rant, but after a couple of minutes, no one was bidding.

So Allen nodded "$4 million."

As it turned out, that was the only bid, and if seller Richard DeVita had decided to take a multimillion-dollar bath, it would have been the winner.

But DeVita decided he could not sell at that price. As of this writing (Thursday), King was negotiating on behalf of DeVita with another potential buyer.

The auction was just part of the marketing strategy for the 101-acre property, which includes a 19,000-square-foot mansion and has been listed, currently at $9.9 million, for several years by Carol Clark of Premier Sotheby's International Realty.

DeVita paid J.P. King about $150,000 for marketing expenses, which included nationwide advertising. A successful buyer at the auction would have had to pay a 10 percent "buyer's premium" to J.P. King. And the auction agreement includes a limited-time listing with King, which means it is entitled to a commission should anyone introduced to the property by King's advertising or auctioning efforts actually buy it.

"I thought I would get the ball rolling, and I did for $4 million," said Allen.

"It was really disappointing" that no one else bid.

"I felt sorry for the owner," Allen added.

"It is an incredible property and one of the finest houses in the county, if not more than that. He had the right of refusal, and I knew that."

Allen learned about the ranch from advertisements, and toured it when the list price was close to $14 million.

"It even has development potential," as 10-acre ranchettes, he said, "but it would be a shame to split it up because it has such a perfect layout.

"We don't have a family, but we have some friends — and we would have a lot more if we owned that."

Allen once owned 100 acres on Fruitville Road, and owned a farm before that. "I love the country and acreage and cattle and horses. I am an old farmer at heart," said Allen, who was raised on a 150-acre farm in Ohio.

"You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy. My father and grandfather were farmers. I liked the life, but I didn't like being poor."

So he moved to Sarasota when he was 17 and made money in real estate investment.

And if his $4 million bid for DeVita Ranch had been the winner? "I probably would have kept it exactly like it is."


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: February 9, 2013
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