Robot 6

Foreclosure auctions of the rich and famous (comics edition) [Updated]

Steve Geppi's Cliffholme (Baltimore Sun)

Steve Geppi's Cliffholme (Baltimore Sun)

As many of us grapple with the recession, layoffs and a looming tax deadline, it may be difficult to muster much sympathy for the problems of millionaires, but we can try.

A historic 19th-century mansion owned by Diamond Comic Distributors CEO Steve Geppi will be sold today for $7.7 million at a foreclosure auction at the Baltimore County (Maryland) Courthouse. Cliffeholme — yes, it has a name! — has an outstanding mortgage debt of $3.25 million.

Geppi and wife Melinda paid $4.8 million in 2004 for the eight-bedroom, 13,000-square-foot mansion and nine-acre estate. The home features nine fireplaces, a 65-foot grand hall and a master bedroom suite with a gym. The couple moved to another home in the area before putting Cliffeholme on the market in January 2008.

As the Baltimore Sun notes, it’s not been a good year or so for Geppi: He’s been sued over investment properties and printing debts; his Gemstone Publishing closed its offices in White Plains, Missouri, laid off five employees, and failed to renew the Disney comics license; and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum has struggled to pay its bills. Diamond, meanwhile, has experienced its share of difficulties.

Sun financial columnist Jay Hancock attempts to link Geppi’s woes to the challenges the comics industry faces from the recession and the Internet but, frankly, does a terrible job of it — probably because there doesn’t appear to be much of a connection. I’ll go along with Hancock as far as some of the belt-tightening at Diamond (those that are recession-induced, anyway), but to make his case he has to ignore Geppi’s debts that have nothing to do with the comics distributor: namely, those investment properties and his pop-culture museum, the latter of which has operated in the red from the get-go.

From Green Spring Valley, Maryland, we travel cross-country to Bel-Air, Los Angeles, where the Tudor mansion of Ghost Rider and Kick-Ass star Nicolas Cage failed to find a buyer Wednesday at a foreclosure auction.

Cage, who faces $6 million in tax liens and has traded lawsuits with his former business manager, earlier had tried to sell the 11,816-square-foot mansion for $35 million. Wednesday’s auction opened at $10.4 million, but still … no interest.

But why? Built in 1940, the house’s former owners include Dean Martin and Tom Jones. It boasts six bedrooms, nine baths, a 35-seat home theater and an Olympic-size pool. So why no takers, even at that low, low price.

Real estate agent Bret Parsons thinks he knows: It comes down to Cage’s “fascinating and bizarre” tastes in interior design.

“The design was ‘frat house bordello,’ ” Parsons told the LA Times. “There must have been 300 comic book covers elaborately framed and hanging on the walls.”

P.M. Update: Like Cage’s mansion, Geppi’s has failed to draw a buyer. The mortgage lender has taken back the property.



The worst part about Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is the sad, sad gift shop. With a company like Diamond at his beck and call, you’d think it would be packed to the gills with comic reprints and other goodies. Instead, there’s a lot of wasted retail space and collectable busts that don’t really have much to do with what’s on display.

For a museum operating in the red, it’s a wasted opportunity.

How much more money does Geppi need to make before the government recognizes his company as a monopoly?

The Ugly American

April 8, 2010 at 8:14 am

I think the clients are put off when they go to the hentai room, with all the yaoi on display.

I honestly don’t know what I just typed.

“How much more money does Geppi need to make before the government recognizes his company as a monopoly?”

A whole lot. The government seems to view comics as either part of the larger magazine or book trades.

The museum is well worth a visit. I am sorry to hear about Steve’s personal financial situation
He is a very generous person.

Seems someone needs to get off the Greed Train– learn how to act like a man– and stop hiding behind his LLCs.

(And I disagree John B… Many comic retailers would find the Geppi to be FAR from generous.)

Geppi didn’t pay 19 consecutive months of rent on his Museum? Didn’t pay for rent on a movie theater? Owes millions in other bad deals? Didn’t pay his mortgage and allowed his mansion to slide into foreclosure? What a hypocrite. It’s “OK” for the Nouveau Riche to act like their bills are below them but the Hoi Polloi have to buck up and tow the line?

Make. Me. Vomit.

Geppi doesn’t pay his bills but thinks YOU should. Diamond apparently can’t get Borders Books to pay for their shipments for FOUR YEARS– yet KEEPS supplying them with product to compete with HONEST Comic Retailers… And of course, expects these Comic Sellers to pay for their product EVERY WEEK– without fail.

Wonder how long it would take Diamond to shut off the average retailer’s individual store account if they just stopped paying their bill every week? (Answer: Less than 7 days.)

In my opinion, this couldn’t happen to a “nicer” guy.

The best thing in the world would be for Diamond to finally get some real competition… Or be sold to– and run by– professionals. The idiots have ruled the roost for far too long.

I wonder if MARVEL/DC/DARK HORSE/IMAGE and all the other main players that are covering in the PREVIEW book are ready for an alternative source of distribution if Diamond goes down in the next few months. And what about all the pre-orders taken, production made, and all… I work in the distribution and know that it can become a huge nightmare if someone closes and no back-up plan is in place.

We could see publishers and retailers close, and lots of fans very pissed!

It’s time for PANINI to open a North-American brand, they apparently do a fine job in Europe with comics and other products…

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