Geller\'s Elvis Home: Return to Sender (June 7 2006)


Staff member
*Pathetic* :glare:

Geller's Elvis Home: Return to Sender

by Josh Grossberg
Jun 7, 2006, 10:40 AM PT

For Uri Geller, mentally bending spoons is apparently a lot easier than purchasing Elvis Presley's home on eBay.

After announcing to heavy hype last month that he had plunked down $905,000 to buy the King of Rock and Roll's first official residence in Memphis, Tennessee, via the online auctioneer, it turns out the celebrity psychic and his two partners were unable to close the deal. The owner has since sold the home to a Nashville record producer for $1 million.

We're surprised he didn't see it coming.

Located in a quiet tree-lined neighborhood, the property is a four-bedroom, two-bath 13,000-square foot ranch-style house that Presley bought with royalties from his hit "Heartbreak Hotel." He lived in it for a year with his parents and grandparents in 1956 before moving to his famed Graceland mansion, where he died in 1977.

Per Memphis' Commercial Appeal newspaper, homeowner Cindy Hazen claimed the two sides could not come to an agreement on the contract because Geller and his partner, New York lawyer Peter Gleason, changed the terms of the deal. When she hadn't heard back from the Israeli-born magician for two weeks regarding the alterations, she and her ex-husband, Mike Freeman, opted to sell the home instead to Mike Curb, the founder of Nashville's Curb Records and a noted philanthropist.

"At the end of two weeks, we did not have an agreement. It made me question their commitment or ability to follow through with the sale," Hazen told the Appeal. "This is not a decision we made lightly."

Talk about all shook up.

A furious Gellar disputed that assertion, accusing Hazen and Freeman of breach of contract by reneging on his bid and going with a better offer from Curb.

The spoon bender had hoped to restore the home and turn it into a Presley museum devoted to the paranormal, which presumably would have included séances to contact the music legend from the grave. (Geller once met Elvis in Las Vegas in the '70s and has been a Presley fan ever since).

So, he invited Gleason and Swedish jewelry designer Lisbeth Silvandersson to go in with him and bid on Audobon, when the Hazens put the home up for sale on eBay after buying it several years ago from a third party for $180,000.

Geller said he was willing to go as high as $1.1 million--a subtle reference to his favorite number 11--and thanks to some synchronicity, the bids went his way.

"As the clock closed on the bidding Sunday, I felt intuitively I got the price," Geller said last month. "I was text messaging Gleason and it was exactly 11 on my mobile phone and suddenly the radio started playing an Elvis song. That was Elvis telling me we got the house!"

Alas, his prediction didn't pan out.

"We were ecstatic when we got the house, but we were disappointed, naturally, afterward," Gleason, who handled the bidding on behalf of the consortium, told E! Online.

Rejecting Hazen's claim that they didn't follow through on their contractual obligations, the attorney said his group might consider taking legal action.

"At this point, we are certainly seeing who all the culpable parties are here," noted Gleason, adding that eBay might be included in any potential suit since company policy advocates that any sale on the site is a "binding contract."

Reps for eBay were not available for comment.

While the two sides can't go on together with suspicious minds, the psychic, meanwhile, has vowed to do everything in his power to curb the sale to Curb, even if it means resorting to hardball legal tactics.

"If I have to, I will take this to the Supreme Court; If I have to, I'll take this to the Pope," Geller told the Appeal by phone from England on Monday.

While we're not quite sure how His Holiness can help (maybe Uri should try his old pal, Michael Jackson), to that end, Geller and his partners have hired the services of Memphis attorney Douglas Alrutz in the hopes of recovering the real estate.

According to the Appeal, Alrutz has since gone about getting an old bankruptcy case against Hazen and Freeman reopened.

The couple originally filed their bankruptcy petition in September 2005, and provided the court with the home's original appraisal of $236,000. The case was resolved in February with the judge discharging them of $43,000 in debt. However, after some apparent prompting from Geller's legal eagle, bankruptcy trustee Barbara Loevy cited the Presley connection in filing a motion this week to reopen the case because the house was worth more than they claimed.

"The debtors had the unique knowledge of the true nature and value of the property and withheld this information from the trustee," she said.

Alrutz told E! Online that Geller intends to pursue "all legal remedies" to enforce what he believes is a "valid contract" to purchase the property.

"When [Hazen and Freeman] filed for bankruptcy, they assigned a value of $236,000 to the property," the lawyer said. "But the trustee alleged that the sellers listed it on eBay 90 days later for $400,000 to $500,000."

For her part, Hazen denied she ever tried to conceal Audobon's potential resale value in listing her assets with the court.

"There were eight owners between Elvis and us, and the house had never before sold for more than market value," she told the Appeal. "There was no way for us to know what somebody would bid."

Perhaps she should've consulted Geller.

Should the bankruptcy court find otherwise, it's possible the sale might not go through, giving the psychic another shot. A hearing on the bankruptcy motion is scheduled for June 25.