Montana town's auction called off for lack of bidsThe auction of a tiny, Custer-themed Montana town near the historic site of the Battle of Little Bighorn was called off Wednesday when none of the 15 people who showed up put in a bid.
By: Matt Volz, Associated Press, Superior Telegram
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The auction of a tiny, Custer-themed Montana town near the historic site of the Battle of Little Bighorn was called off Wednesday when none of the 15 people who showed up put in a bid.
Williams and Williams spokeswoman Amy Bates said the auction house previously spoke with 200 people interested in the auction of the town of Garryowen and of manuscripts written by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's wife, Elizabeth.
But none was ready to make a commitment and put down a 10 percent deposit, she said.
"That's a very big decision and we didn't have any bidders who were prepared to take that final step today but are interested in further talks with the seller," Bates said in a statement.
The auctioneer will work with owner Christopher Kortlander to privately negotiate options with potential buyers.
Kortlander did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday evening.
Garryowen is 50 miles southeast of Billings and within the Crow Indian Reservation. It is a few miles from where Custer and more than 200 U.S. Cavalry troopers and scouts from the Crow Tribe were killed in June 1876, by up to 1,800 Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors.
The town just off Interstate 90 has a population of two: Kortlander and a property manager. It has a post office, a residence, a gas station, a Subway restaurant, the Custer Battlefield Museum and a tomb of the unknown soldier.
The museum is not for sale. Kortlander, the museum's director, has previously said that whether the museum will stay depends on who buys Garryowen.
"I just hope it's somebody that will carry the torch forward," Kortlander said earlier Wednesday.
A major Garryowen attraction is the tomb of the unknown soldier, which is marked by a marble plaque that reads: "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."
But a disclosure on the Williams and Williams website raises questions about whether anybody is buried there at all.
"A monument located on the Property may indicate that a burial site is located on the Property. Neither the Seller nor Williams & Williams can confirm or dispute the existence of a possible internment on the Property," it reads.
If there is a body, the disclosure goes on to say, the buyer is responsible for complying with any state and local laws regulating burial sites.
Kortlander said there is a reserve price that must be met, but he declined to disclose what it was. If nobody buys the town, Kortlander said he will continue to operate "business as usual."
Kortlander previously attempted to sell Garryowen at least once in the last decade for $6.9 million. That attempt failed amid a government investigation into allegations that Kortlander was involved in illegal artifact dealings. The investigation was later dropped, and Kortlander has filed two lawsuits against the government seeking damages and to reclaim items.
He also sued the auction house that had agreed to handle that sale. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount.