The gavel once again fell with a verdict in the Murdaugh family story – but this time at the hands of an auctioneer, not a judge.
On Thursday, people from all over the Southeast gathered for an auction of items originally inside the Murdaughs’ home in Colleton County, South Carolina, which is a hunting property called Moselle.
The auction, which was held about 100 miles away at Liberty Auction in Georgia, lasted over six hours, and Steven Dugger, the auctioneer handling the sale, told CNN that the event was “the largest auction I have seen here for sure.”
Liberty Auction owner Lori Mattingly agreed, telling CNN that for the firm, the Murdaugh lot was the “largest lot ever sold … by a lot.”
The property became a household name during the nationally televised trial of its owner, Alex Murdaugh, a former lawyer, who was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month for shooting and killing his wife and son there.
The bidding began just after 4 p.m. in a packed, stuffy room. And when the auction finally came to a close at 10:30 pm, all of the Murdaugh items were sold.
It will take several days to do a full accounting of the sales but some of the items sold for eye-catching sums. A Yeti cup, which typically retails for $35, sold for $400, according to Mattingly. A beer koozie sold for $500, while mounted antlers went for $10,000 and a furniture set for $30,000.
The sale also included beds, chests, tables, chairs, a popcorn maker, and picture frames that once hung on the walls of the Moselle estate, along with a large rack of hunting equipment. Robert Daley’s book “Man with A Gun,” a story about a man who commits an accidental homicide, was also among the items sold.
Mattingly described the scene of the bidding as “frenzy buying.” Bidders “were just determined to get what they wanted,” she said.
“That just proves people have more money than sense,” she added.
People had begun lining up at the auction house in Pembroke, Georgia, six hours before the sale, expressing both curiosity and sadness for the victims that were left in the wake of Murdaugh’s crimes. Visitors wandered from table to table, wondering aloud about the family’s possessions.
One woman who’d attended Murdaugh’s trial was one of the first in line for the auction. “We have been so invested in the family and the trial and followed it very close,” Mary Landrum from Augusta, Georgia said. “I think having a piece of the memorial would be interesting.”
She said she hoped that most of the money would be returned to Murdaugh’s victims.
Debbie Diz, another auction attendee, also followed the trial closely. “We’re here in hopes of getting a memento of this historical event,” said Diz. She said the whole trial was “sad,” and that “the jury probably reached the right decision.”
Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were found fatally shot on the Moselle property on June 7, 2021. He has maintained that he did not kill them. Prosecutors argued that Murdaugh committed the murders to distract and delay from investigations into his long string of alleged financial crimes and lies.
Murdaugh, who was once a prominent South Carolina attorney, was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murders. He is appealing the conviction. He has also been charged for other alleged financial crimes for which he has yet to face trial.
The sizeable crowd gathered at the Liberty Auction house was met by a man selling pecans and vegetables that he grew and a concession stand in the back of the room where hot dogs and sweet tea were for sale.
Lane Leopard, a Savannah salon owner who grew up not far from where the Murdaughs lived, was one of the early bidders. She told CNN that she had been looking for a deer head to decorate her salon.
“When I heard about this, I thought, ‘Well, that’s cool, get one from the Murdaugh house,’” she said, adding she “thought it would just be cool to tell our clients, ‘Hey, that’s where that came from.’”
Looking visibly excited with the deer head she bought at the auction, Leopard said, “I’m stoked. I’ve been trying to Snapchat all my friends like, ‘Look, I got it, I did it.’ I had a mission. I came, and I did it.’”
Attendee Korri Ray remarked on the intrigue of watching a wealthy family’s fall from grace.
“This is a family that had it all. They had the world at their fingertips,” said Ray, a Savannah resident. “To see some of their most prized possessions – I know that Maggie’s monogrammed pillows [were sold] – to me that is so sad … that someone’s monogrammed pillows are being auctioned off.”
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