You're bound to see some strange things on any trip to Reno, but a golden rooster selling at auction for nearly a quarter of a million dollars is truly remarkable. The rooster, which was auctioned off Saturday, July 26, was a historic figurine taken from the Nugget Casino and Resort. Both the rooster and the resort were owned by John Ascuaga. The regal rooster had become something of an attraction in and of itself over it's lifespan, drawing people from all over to Reno. Many came not to gamble, but simply to take in the golden bird. Prior to its sale on Saturday, enthusiasts were given one last chance to view it, which was displayed at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino.
The rooster itself was given a pre-auction valuation of up to $300,000. Ultimately, it ended up selling for $234,000. The auction also featured 314 pieces of art collected all over the United States, and drew bidders from across the nation. Held at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino following a display of the works, the auction generated an estimated $30 million in total revenue. According to Michael Scott, a project manager for the auction, this represents a $1 million increase in revenue from last year's event.
History of the rooster
The rooster, which is made of 18 karat gold, spent over half a century perched in John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino and Resort, located at 1100 Nugget Avenue in Sparks, Nevada. The rooster weighs roughly 207 ounces, which posed a problem for Ascuaga when the U.S. Treasury Department twice confiscated it, claiming that it violated the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. The act, which made it illegal for any one person to own over 50 ounces of gold unless it was a work of art, was found non-applicable in Ascuaga's case once a jury recognized the artistic value of the rooster. For much of it's life at the casino, the rooster sat in the Golden Rooster Room, which was a specialty fried chicken restaurant within the casino.
Many of the more than 300 pieces of art and collectibles featured at The western americana auction were inspired by themes of Western America and the frontier. A piece by Charles M. Russell entitled "Trail of the Iron Horse" sold for $1.9 million after multiple rounds of bidding. Another piece, "Dakota Chief," sold for $1 million. The auction also included numerous statues of cowboys and native Americans, and drew nearly 700 bidders.