ATLANTIC CITY — Over a dozen people lined up outside the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal Thursday morning to get a first crack at the 60-day liquidation sale that will clear the casino hotel of all of its contents.
The doors opened at 10 a.m. and people quickly began gathering televisions, furniture and the limited amount of poker tables available.
Kim Fantazzia, 54, of Margate, was one of the first people in the door and purchased two five-foot ornamental urns for $240 each.
"These are going to look perfect next to my fire place," Fantazzia said as she checked out. "I just saw them and knew that I had to have."
Some used to the event to look for home furnishings.
"We just got a new apartment and we have to fill it up," said Bianca Pizarro, 24, who was there with her boyfriend, Lukas Montanez, 27, both of Atlantic City.
Both Pizarro and Montanez used to be card dealers at the Taj. They left the casino after its owners threatened to close in 2015 during an ugly bankruptcy case.
"We really thought it was going to close then," she said.
Jason Bourne, a Maryland resident who comes to the city once a month, said he used to play at the Taj frequently and enjoyed staying in the suites near the top of the Taj Tower.
"It used to have some of the best suites in the city," he said. "It's a shame they let the building deteriorate like it did."
For sale are iconic chandeliers, white elephants, artwork, a limited number of poker tables, furniture and other light fixtures at bargain prices.
One of the most popular items for early visitors were televisions that were taken from the hotel rooms.
"Why would I go to Wal Mart and spend $400 on a TV when I can get one here for cheap?" said Gerald Winchester, who was the first person in line Thursday morning.
He added that he used to walk to the Taj everyday from his Atlantic City home and play the slot machines.
“Everything will be gone in 60 days, guaranteed,” said Donald Hayes, president of National Content Liquidators, who is in charge of the sale.
Anything with President Donald Trump’s name on it is not for sale. All of that was taken off the site after the resort closed in October.
The slot machines and card tables on the casino floor have also been removed and are not for sale. There was no information on whether they will be re-purposed for the new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which is scheduled to open next Memorial Day weekend.
Anyone interested in purchasing the chandeliers, which run from $7,500 to $35,000, must hire a moving company with insurance to take them from the building.
The hotel rooms are in the same condition they were left in when the resort closed. The only exception is the televisions, which have been taken out and stored downstairs. They can be purchased for about $50, depending on the size.
Nine-player poker tables are being sold for $550. A 10-player table is going for $650. The chairs with the Taj logo on the back are sold separately at $39 apiece.
Other items for sale include the “EGO” sign that used to stand outside the club next to the casino. Full bedsets and linens also can be purchased.
On the Boardwalk outside the property Wednesday afternoon, Lee Smith, 44, and his son, Jonathan Smith, 17, both said they would have been interested first in buying a slot machine had they been available, followed by a gaming table.
Janna Meachem was sitting outdoors eating with Daniel Prendergast Wednesday evening near the Taj.
Asked what he might like to buy, the first thing that came to Meachem’s mind was as many gaming tables as possible.
Prendergast agreed and said, “I would take it home and just play. Packs of cards, they have probably got millions of those,” Prendergast said.
Hard Rock International and investors Joe Jingoli and Jack Morris plan to spend $500 million renovating and rebranding the property. The Hard Rock project is expected to generate more than a 1,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, according to Hard Rock. The group paid $50 million for the property, according to federal records.
The India-themed Taj closed in October after an up-and-down history. At one point Trump referred to the property as “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”
The property went through multiple bankruptcies and closed following a strike by its main workers union.
Hayes, who has been in business for 42 years, said the fact that Trump is now president of the United States did not affect the prices of the items.
He was previously hired by Trump to conduct liquidation sales at other buildings, including the Barbizon Plaza in New York, which was featured in Trump’s best-selling book “The Art of the Deal.”
He also conducted the liquidation sale at the Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City before it was demolished in 2007.
Hayes said people are welcome to line up before the 10 a.m. Thursday sale start time outside the property’s main entrance on Virginia Avenue.
The parking garage will not be open. Anyone interested in attending will have to find their own parking at another casino or somewhere else in the city.
Staff photographer Edward Lea contributed to this report.