Big house, smaller price tag

Kevin Spradlin Richmond County Daily Journal

November 4, 2013

ELLERBE — The ranch and home that once belonged to World Wrestling Federation superstar Andre the Giant failed to sell Saturday during an auction at the property on the outskirts of Ellerbe.

The effort to sell the 46-acre property with a house of 3,500 square feet, an event staged by Swicegood Group Inc., of Mocksville, came down to two interested parties.

First was Randy Wayne White, a Florida man with Richmond County ties and a New York Times best-selling author of crime fiction and nonfiction adventure stories. White was joined by his uncle, Levon Wilson, of Hamlet, in the bidding process.

The other main bidder was a group headed by family patriarch George Ewing, of Rockingham.

The current owners of the property are James and Bonnie Sugg. Andre Roussimoff — the Frenchman was best known for his giant frame of 7-feet, 4-inches and weight of more than 500 pounds, as well as his brute strength inside the wrestling ring — spent the last 10 years of his life in rural Ellerbe. The idea was to get away from the limelight and simply have a place to welcome friends, host parties and enjoy life.

Roussimoff died in 1993 at the age of 46. His ashes were scattered over the ranch.

Ellerbe resident Henry Williams, who showed up the first time the property went to auction, was present again on Saturday. He was one of five registered bidders.

“You never know what’s going to take place,” he said.

He was right. The property was divided into two sections, the house and about nine acres in one parcel and approximately 37.7 acres of woodland in the other. The property featured two small streams, but that wasn’t quite what White, of Florida, wanted. He had hoped the property had a lake or pond and, if so, had been willing to bid up to $350,000.

White credited the current owners as having taken great care of the property and kept the three-story house, gazebo, barbecue building and workshop in great shape over the years.

“This would have been a good place to come and write,” White lamented as the bid exceeded his maximum offer of $260,000.

Ewing, of Rockingham, capped his bid at $270,000 but that failed to meet the owners’ undisclosed reserve amount. The property was reportedly assessed at $358,000.

“They want more than what we bid,” Ewing said.

Ewing asked for the reserve amount but was not provided that figure.

“He just told me I was close to it,” Ewing said.

Ewing seemed disappointed.

“It’s a pretty place,” he said.

Ewing suggested the price might be inflated in an attempt to cash in on the connection with Andre the Giant. It was a relationship auctioneer T. Kyle Swicegood promoted heavily during the 40-minute auction.

There was a brief attempt by Ewing to merge with a third party and perhaps split the property, but no terms were reached.

Swicegood said offers on the property would continue to be accepted.