Rat Island goes for $176,000 at auction

From left, Red Brennan and winning bidders Alex and Noelva Schibli (c)

Rat Island, that inhospitable slab of rocks off City Island in the Bronx, sold at auction Sunday for $176,000 (including 10 percent buyer’s premium), becoming perhaps the first such sale in New York City for centuries.

“The last time was $26 to the Indians,” the seller, Edmund “Red” Brennan, 73, in Harley Davidson braces, quipped while waiting for the event to begin. He was, of course, referring to the purchase of the island of Manhattan.

Rat Island with prospective bidder Steven Heyman (right) and a family friend in the foreground (c)

The winning bidder was a City Island resident, Alex Schibli, 72, who frequently swims or kayaks to the improbably desirable slab of rocks.  With wife Noelva nodding approval, Shibli told me that he wants to keep Rat Island clear and natural for his family’s use.

There were were but two determined bidders once increments of $10,000 took the action above $50,000, the second one being a Westchester internist.

Auctioneer Jack Lyon, in white, urging the Schiblis to bid more. To the couple’s left, the man with the moustache dropped out of the bidding at the end. (c)

Under sunny skies, auctioneer Jack Lyon began the sale at 1:25 p.m. by inviting a $500,000 bid before rapidly de-escalating to $350,000, whereupon the physician offered $10,000.  When the number reached $100,000, Lyon called for a minute’s pause, as he had indicated he would do, and it was all over by 1:32 p.m.

Although the winning bid had been announced as subject to the owner’s approval, Shibli didn’t have to wait long to know whether Rat Island was his.

“It’s a done deal,” said Brennan, who had traveled to the city from his retirement home in Jupiter, Fla. for the auction and for a daughter’s wedding Saturday night.

(An earlier version of this post erroneously omitted addition of the 10 percent buyer’s premium in calculating the winning price.)

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You can buy your own New York City island

Own a piece of (the) rock. . . Rat Island.

Updated on 9/21 at end:

Off City Island in the Bronx, a New York City island called “Rat” can be yours at auction on Oct. 2.

The New York Daily News reported in 2009 that one Red Brennan, a 40-year marine contractor who salvaged barges and stored equipment there, was trying to unload the thing for $300,000.  Well, he failed in that effort.

The barren 2.5-acre Rat Island is to be sold at 1 p.m. Continue reading