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When the Watergate Hotel gets auctioned off, people show up. Nearly ten TV cameras, a whole bunch of real-estate types, and your favorite Housing Complex reporter packed into a Wisconsin Avenue office for the event.

Then we sat in the ultimate state of real-estate/legal boredom, as a functionary read aloud about 15 pages of technical stuff about the sale, the property, the minutiae. That took about 40 minutes.*

Then, to the auction: An immediate opening bid hit the floor—-$25 million for this piece of historic Washington. The bid came from a lawyer connected to PB Capital, which happens to be the lender for the current owner of the property, Monument Realty.

Following the bid, there was a bit of commotion. A phone call was made from the front row. People did some whispering and gesticulating. Then, well, nothing. Soon enough, the bidder and the auctioneer went into a private room for some discussions. They returned a short while later.

The proceedings resumed but no more bids surfaced. Sold.

Paul Cooper, a representative from the Alex Cooper Auctioneers, Inc., identified the bidder as David Astrove, who was representing PB Capital, a New York-based real estate outfit, in this transaction.

If nothing else, the auction reflected the Watergate’s upside-downness: Though its market value is $25 million, the outstanding loan balance for Monument Realty is $40 million.

*Original reporting stated that “about 12” pages were read. An Alex Cooper employee later said 15 pages were read.

Image by Ruth Samuelson