When we heard about the liquidation auction at the shuttered Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, we felt an odd compulsion to check it out. Sure, we were intrigued by the thought of buying some deeply discounted artwork or maybe a new nightstand, but the idea of getting inside the building was what really drew us in. The Taj Mahal closed last year after 26 years in business, and Hard Rock Casino is set to open in its place at the end of next summer. But in the meantime, the building is in a weird state of limbo, neither the Taj nor the Hard Rock. And we wanted to see it in person.
We went to the Taj yesterday, on the first day of the auction. As expected, it was a rather unusual experience.
The building opened at 10am. We arrived around noon and found a huge line outside that meant a two hour wait, at least.
We went to the front of the line to chat with a security guard, flashed our non-existent press credentials, promised not to buy anything and just take pictures, and he let us walk right in. Score.
Looking to the left after walking in the door, we saw a lobby filled with tables and chairs. The tables are selling for between $30 and $60, with the chairs in roughly the same price range. For someone looking to open a new restaurant, this is a gold mine. Above the tables and chairs are chandeliers listed for sale for $7,500. Maybe if you’re opening a steakhouse…
Looking back toward the entrance is the cashier area. The wait to pay was at least an hour.
Across from the cashiers is a small area with various samples of items for sale from the rooms. The beds seem like the main attraction, with queen and king beds selling for as little as $99. We don’t know that we’d want a hotel bed, let alone a casino hotel bed, in our home, but that didn’t seem to bother many of the people at the auction. In addition to beds, they’re also selling anything and everything you might find in a hotel room. Dressers, desks, chairs, lamps, mirrors, coffee makers, hair dryers, bed skirts, and other items large and small are available for purchase. If it isn’t attached, it’s fair game. You’ll note from the sign, only floors 46-50 were open yesterday. And we figured we’d go up and take a look around.
On the way to the elevators, we passed a room full of televisions, a room full of irons, some additional casino furniture, and some much more affordable chandeliers. And then we went all the way up to the 50th floor.
What we found upstairs was pretty much what we expected. The mood was a little frenzied as people made their way through rooms that were previously the fanciest and most expensive in the hotel, looking for… who knows what. Some of the rooms had already been basically ransacked by the time we got there. Other rooms were still more or less intact. Interestingly, the wallpaper was peeling off the walls in just about every room. We wonder, was this done by the Hard Rock people who were (wisely) wondering about mold? Or is this just what happens when a hotel sits empty for 9 months?
Check out these images, for a taste of what we saw:
As we were making our way out, we snapped some photos of the casino floor. It’s a little surreal.
Truly, we were hoping they’d be selling some blackjack tables or maybe some roulette wheels. Not yesterday, at least. A little off the beaten path, we found the poker room, where the poker tables are for sale for $550-$650. If you’re opening a basement casino, this is a gold mine.
Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, it’s probably worth visiting the Taj auction just to experience the building in its current state. According to a representative from National Content Liquidators, they only opened 150 rooms yesterday and the hotel has roughly 1,200 in total. They expect the crowds will remain strong through this coming weekend, but weekdays next week should be much tamer. Given the number of rooms in the hotel, it seems there will still be plenty of stuff to buy at that time. There are no guarantees though, that there will be any leopard print couches or terrifying wooden horses left by then. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s worth the risk of waiting.