EATONTON - Diane McIver’s wedding dress may soon hang in a stranger’s closet.
Someone’s going to sip from her Waterford crystal flutes, dazzle in her emerald and diamond pendants, lounge on the inflatable whale that once floated on her pool and maybe heed the message on the plaque that hangs outside her back door: "Leave a path in the garden so angels can walk through."
The 85-acre ranch she once shared with her husband, Tex, and its vast collection of contents are being auctioned and sold this weekend. Organizers expect a massive crowd of bargain hunters and curiosity seekers, but the McIvers won’t be there, of course. He’s in prison, probably for the rest of his life, for killing her.
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“It’s a unique situation,” said Dempsey Auction Co. president Lou Dempsey, putting it delicately.
Judge Robert McBurney in May sentenced the Atlanta attorney to life in prison after his conviction on felony murder.
The sale and auction are being conducted in concert with legal representatives for Tex McIver, who was assigned to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison near Jackson before being transferred to Long State Prison in Ludiwici, and Diane’s estate. The court will direct the proceeds.
“It is sad,” said attorney Mary Margaret Oliver, the estate’s court-appointed executor. “For people who cared about Diane and appreciated all that she contributed, to see this sale is sad.”
A tag sale of household odds and ends begins at 10 a.m. Friday. On offer: just about everything you can think of. Cutting boards, coffee mugs, framed prints, books, wicker chairs, pottery. A plastic Hank Williams Jr. figurine that sings, maybe. Its batteries were dead when we tried to find out.
An auction of higher-end items starts at 11 a.m. Saturday and will include fine furniture, artwork and a spectacular collection of jewelry.
It appears the item above is the chain and pendant Diane McIver is seen wearing in the photo below:
The property will be auctioned at noon on Saturday.
“High noon,” Dempsey kept saying, and that phrase appears in in marketing materials advertising the sale. It sounds folksy, and in keeping with items like the stuffed bull’s head, the Texas-shaped serving platter and the pair of mugs that say “Cowboy and Cowgirl.” Then you remember why all this stuff is up for grabs. A woman is dead. Her husband shot her.
“It’s a tragic situation, but we have a job to do,” said Robert Ahlers of Ahlers & Ogletree, which is handling the sale and auction of personal property. Dempsey is handling the real estate.
“Nine times out of 10, we won’t see the buyer until the day of the sale,” said Dempsey, who has fielded calls from New York, Key West and Hawaii. To bid on the property, potential buyers must pre-qualify with $50,000 of certified funds. He expects the property to fetch anywhere from the high $800s to over $1 million.
Security will be tight and access controlled, with only 50 people allowed in at a time. Whatever doesn’t sell Friday and Saturday will be offered again during another tag sale on Sunday. Ahlers doesn’t expect to have to box up much if anything.
“This house will be cleared out by the end of the weekend,” he said.
Walking through the home and around the property reminds you of just how fabulous the McIvers’ life must have been once. The wine cellar, in the bottom level of the “Noddin’ Down Saloon” behind the main house, is itself larger than many homes, and several of the bottles are autographed by dozens of friends when celebrating birthdays. The couple even commissioned their own blend. There’s a bottle of Meritage with a custom McIver label.
There are also firearms for sale, and gun-themed items such as a chandelier bedecked with pistols.
“We don’t dial 911,” a decorative sign reads.
Terri Jackson, a former investigator with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, who now works in DeKalb County’s District Attorney Office, made note of the sign and chandelier during her testimony at McIver’s murder trial.
Diane McIver’s close friend Dani Jo Carter, who was driving when Tex McIver shot and killed his wife - accidentally, his attorneys unsuccessfully argued - didn’t want to comment on the sale.
Ken Rickert, in-house counsel for U.S. Enterprises, where Diane McIver worked, sounded wistful.
“It’s sad to see all her personal belongings being sold,” Rickert said. “What else can you say?”
On Wednesday, Carter and Rickert attended the Fulton County Commission meeting where Executive Assistant District Attorney Clint Rucker was honored for his successful prosecution.
Eighty miles east, Dempsey and Ahlers got ready for customers.
An upbeat guy who could probably sell sand in the desert, Dempsey recognized the weirdness of the whole thing but focused on the task at hand. He was working an auction in north Georgia when he got the call about working the McIver event. The name rang a bell but he had to Google the case to remember the saga.
He’s never worked a case quite like this one, and like Ahlers is focusing on getting the job done. During our visit we didn’t talk much about the McIvers, but instead on how nice their things are.
“Would you like a bottle of water?” Dempsey asked, offering 20 ounces from Sam’s Club that presumably are not part of the McIver estate. “It’s ice cold. The refrigerator works great. Nothing slack here at the ranch.”