After daylong auction, winning bidder for Jay Peak remains a mystery

Jay Peak Timberlne Cottages
The Timberline Cottages at Jay Peak Resort with Jay Peak and the resort’s tramway in the rear on Friday, June 7, 2019. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

A winning bid has been made for Jay Peak Resort following a daylong auction, but neither the bidder’s identity nor the amount it offered for the Northeast Kingdom property has been revealed.

The auction, which was closed to the public, started at 11 a.m. Wednesday and continued past 5 p.m. 

“There’ll be more info available tomorrow,” Steven Wright, Jay Peak’s general manager, wrote in an email to VTDigger around 7 p.m..

A “final sale hearing” is set for Sept. 16 in federal court in Miami before Judge Darrin P. Gayles. That event will be open to the public. 

The Northeast Kingdom resort has been under a court receivership since April 2016, when federal and state regulators brought civil enforcement actions against its owner at the time, Ariel Quiros, as well as the resort’s president, Bill Stenger.

Michael Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver, announced last month that he had received an offer of $58 million from Pacific Group Resorts Inc. of Park City, Utah.

The judge overseeing the receivership granted Goldberg’s request to solicit other interested parties who could top that offer and, if any came forward, hold an auction to sell the resort to the highest bidder. 

Wright said Tuesday that he expected two or “possibly” three bidders to take part in Wednesday’s auction.

Golderbg could not be reached Wednesday for comment. 

Quiros and Stenger have settled their cases with state and federal regulators who accused the two men of misusing more than $200 million of the $350 million they raised from foreign investors through the federal EB-5 visa program.

Quiros, as part of his settlement, agreed to surrender $81 million in assets, including Jay Peak Resort. 

Stenger and Quiros, as well as an advisor, William Kelly, were all later indicted on federal criminal charges related to their failed project to construct a biomedical research center in Newport, known as AnC Bio Vermont.

Despite securing more than $80 million from over 160 investors, the project barely got off the ground before regulators halted it over investor fraud allegations. 

Quiros, Stenger and Kelly have all since reached plea deals with prosecutors in that case and are now in federal prison.

The “final sale hearing” will take place in federal court in Miami because that is where the federal enforcement action against Quiros and Stenger was filed. The case was brought in Florida because Quiros was residing there at the time and many of his businesses were based there.

The value of Jay Peak had been set on the town of Jay’s grand list at $121 million as of 2020. Following an appeal by resort officials, it was later dropped to $85 million in a settlement. 

Proceeds from the sale are expected to be doled out on a “pro rata” basis to defrauded investors. 

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