Home fetches $1.85 million at auction Waterfront estate is sold by executive of broadcasting firm

November 12, 1996|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

"I think it was a good auction. I didn't lose too much," Baltimore broadcasting executive J. Duncan Smith said yesterday, smiling after an elegant, 170-year-old waterfront estate he had purchased as a weekend home was sold at JTC auction for $1.85 million.

Several dozen spectators outnumbered the handful of bidders at the auction, held beside a 25-meter indoor swimming pool in the 19-room country house in Annapolis. The estate, known as Toad Hall, occupies seven acres on a peninsula between the South River and Chesapeake Bay.

Bidding opened at $800,000, and the offers increased initially in increments of $100,000, then $50,000 and, finally, $25,000.

The winning bid came from former real estate broker Gary Hart, who declined to comment as he signed the papers. He also was to pay a 6 percent buyer's premium to the Alabama-based National Auction Group, which conducted the sale.

Smith said his wife liked the property, and he had the money available to buy it for $2 million -- $150,000 more than it sold for yesterday -- from former U.S. Sen. William E. Brock after his family's company, Sinclair Broadcasting, went public in June of last year. (Sinclair's holdings include television Channels 45 and 54 in Baltimore.)

However, they rarely used the estate, and he found himself worrying about plowing the long, cedar-lined driveway off Arundel on the Bay Road during the unusually snowy winter, and removing the muck and debris that washed up on the waterfront lawn during several severe storms, Smith said.

"Gary Hart is getting a beautiful house," Smith said, "the best location in Annapolis short of the Governor's Mansion."

Smith flew to the sale in his private helicopter, accompanied by a friend, Lindsay D. Dryden Jr., former owner of the Dryden Oil Co.

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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