Trump Plaza demo button press fundraiser canceled after owner objects

An auction for the option to press the button to implode Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City has been called off, after opposition from the building’s current owners, those involved have told NJ Advance Media.

The auction was called off after attorneys for IEP AC Plaza LLC, a subsidiary of Ichan Enterprises, which owns the building, said they were unaware of the fundraising and demanded that it stops, said Joseph Bodnar, owner of Bodnar’s Auction on Monday morning.

“I said, well, ‘this is news to me’, because the mayor’s office made us believe this was all copacetic, and we never even thought to reach out to find gender information, what are the legalities, ”Bodnar said.

Ichan Enterprises spoke of security concerns for wanting to cancel the fundraiser, Bodnar said, and was unwilling to find a compromise.

“From the start, we believed that the auction and any other related spectacle posed a security risk, and we were always clear that we would not participate in any way,” said a spokesperson for Icahn, a company controlled by conservative billionaire Carl Icahn.

“All we need is someone there on a walkie-talkie to give us a countdown so the person can press a wrong button and make it look like they’re actually pressing.” the button – we weren’t asking them to press the real detonator or anything of that nature, ”Bodnar said.

After two weeks of back and forth with lawyers for Ichan Enterprises, Bodnar was struck with a cease and desist letter and forced to withdraw from the fundraiser, he said.

Bodnar said communication with the office of Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small was also cut off after Ichan Enterprises’ involvement.

“The last contact I had with the mayor about a week and a half ago, and he swore it was going to pass and we would come to some sort of agreement”, but the deal never came. , said Bodnar.

Small did not return multiple requests for comment from NJ Advance Media.

The fundraising cancellation is a success for the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, which has stepped up operations to serve a community hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Small had hoped that the fundraiser could generate $ 1 million for the charity.

“If there’s a time the Club needs support, it’s now. Losing the potential funding that this event could have provided to the Club is such a shame, it is a heartfelt loss for our next generation, ”said Stephanie Koch, CEO of the organization, in a statement sent to NJ Advance Media.

Previously an after-school program, the club had extended its hours to allow children to attend virtual schooling from their centers and provide hot meals.

The auction was already $ 175,000 less than a week before a live auction, with the potential to exceed $ 500,000, Bodnar said.

“It’s a lot of money that could have changed the lives of a lot of children in the city, and it’s just a shame it couldn’t be brought together,” Bodnar said.

Icahn told The Associated Press that his philanthropic arm will donate $ 175,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City to replace the money allegedly raised through a charity auction.

He owns the old casino, which has been demolished for months.

Pre-implosion demolition is well underway on the building, which closed to the public in 2014. An implosion date had been set for January 29, but Small told Atlantic City press that it would be. postponed to February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Katie Kausch can be reached at [email protected]. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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