BASS RIVER TOWNSHIP — The 54-acre estate here, sometimes referred to as “New Jersey’s Neverland,” sold before the scheduled Friday auction took place for less than the $3.25 million previously listed price.
How much less will have to remain a secret between the buyer and the seller, for now.
The last-minute buyer, whose identity is also being kept private, made a serious offer that was high enough for seller Byung Taek Kim to call off the auction, said Richard B. Maltz, president and owner of Maltz Auctions.
The massive, oddball estate along Route 9 here has had several incarnations, having been a 19th-century farm, an Atlantic City man’s casino payday and a New York man’s dreamscape. The property, ringed by a 1,000-foot-long wall, is most notable for its giant sculptures of elephants, sea serpents, dinosaurs, giraffes, dragons, cannons, religious icons, robots and knights — which were not part of the sale.
“It’s, you know the old saying, ‘a bird in the hand ...’ When you have something where the buyer is happy and the seller is happy, who I am to disrupt that marriage just for a little excitement?” Maltz said of the last-minute offer.
Maltz was not at liberty to say who the purchaser was nor the amount the property was sold for prior to the closing, which must take place by Feb. 14.
Once a farm owned by Benjamin Franklin Headley in the last 1800s, the property was purchased in the 1970s by Eddie Sims of Brigantine, according to a local history blog by Pete Stemmer called Bass River History.
Sims was able to afford the Ocean County farm after selling a plot of bayfront land in Brigantine to Harrah’s Casino.
Kim bought the land in 2010 as a family summer home. More renovations and remodels took place, including the quirky landscaping and statues, which workers would create based on Kim’s design ideas. Over the years, the estate has become a landmark.
The plot has a million-gallon pool with a three-story watchtower and footbridge, a lighted tennis court, two private ponds stacked with perch and bass, two enclosed paddocks and riding path, a greenhouse, a 100-foot dog run, fountains and waterfalls.