It lasted more than 9 1/2 weeks, but actress Kim Basinger's banking career has ended up on the cutting room floor.
Ms. Basinger's 95.1% holding in Braselton Banking Co. was sold in a spirited auction on Thursday to First Security Bankshares of Lavonia, Ga., as part of her personal bankruptcy liquidation.
The $6.5 million-asset bank, based in Braselton, Ga., sold by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles. fetched a hefty $1.5 million, or almost three times book value.
"The judge almost fell out of her chair," said Robert G. Wilson, a Los Angeles attorney who staged the auction and also voiced surprise at the price paid by First Security. "There is a certain cachet ... to the fact that these were Kim's shares."
Leslie Cohen, Ms. Basinger's bankruptcy attorney, said she hand not had a chance to speak with her client but knew she was pleased with the sale.
"We wanted to see it sold," she said in an interview from her car phone. "I would think she would be happy about it."
First Security officials could be reached for comment.
Ms. Basinger, best known for her roles in "Batman," "The Marrying Man," and the steamy "9 1/2 Weeks," was forced to put the bank on the block after she lost a bitter lawsuit to Main Line Pictures for backing out of a verbal agreement to film "Boxing Helena."
Main Line was awarded $8 million, and Ms. Basinger filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 1993. An appeals court judge, however, overturned the decision on Thursday, the day of the auction.
Mr. Wilson said the bidding for the bank began at $810,000 and was bandied back and forth between six parties who met in the bankruptcy court. Finally, First Security put the bidding out of reach by offering $125,000 above the previous bid.
Ms. Basinger acquired the bank in April 1990, shortly after grabbing headlines for buying most of Braselton, a small, quiet town of 450 people about an hour's drive northeast of Atlanta.
The actress bought 1,700 acres of land and buildings from the town's founding family with the backing of Ameritech Corp., a Chicago-based telecommunications firm. Ameritech ponied up nearly $20 million for the land deal, said Mick Basinger, the actress, older brother, who managed the properties. The bank sold several months later for $1.3 million, and Ms. Basinger put up $325,000.
Although she never set foot in the bank, Ms. Basinger named her brother as chairman, and her father as a director.
Ms. Basinger and Ameritech envisioned turning Braselton into an "East Coast entertainment center," her brother said. Ameritech planned to fund the development, and the partners would put the town on the map with a theme park and other attractions.
The location is close to booming Atlanta and near the Basinger family's Athens home. The town also tugged at Ms. Basinger's heartstrings, reminding her of "small-town warmth" and "binding friendships," according to a 1991 story in The Wall Street Journal.
But depressed real estate prices and Ms. Basinger's contract dispute with Main Line scuttled her dreams for Braselton.
In 1993, Main Line claimed Ms. Basinger verbally committed to play the lead role in a movie about a woman whose arms and legs are amputated by her doctor. Ms. Basinger, who argued there was never an agreement, backed out of the movie on advice of her agent, and was sued for $8 million. She lost the suit and filed a Chapter 11 reorganization. She later converted the case to Chapter 7 liquidation.
Braselton locals seem indifferent about the bank's future and Ms. Basinger. When asked what she thinks of the actress, Sally Jones, the office manager with Braselton Poultry Inc., responded with a quick, "Not very much."
"She had all these great plans. She has probably forgotten about us," she said.
Ms. Jones said the company decided about a Week ago to transfer its $300,000-a-month payroll from the bank to another institution.
"The ... bankruptcy proceeding helped us make our decision once and for all," Ms. Jones said. "We just needed an excuse to move it,"
Ms. Basinger's brother regrets the bank became a part of the bankruptcy, and said he was sorry the auction evert took place.
The bank is "a gem," he said. "We wanted to grow it."