Financially troubled oil magnate Nelson Bunker Hunt auctioned off his horses this weekend for a record $46.9 million in the largest known public auction of thoroughbred stock in the United States, sales officials said.
Hunt, the nation's leading breeder of racehorses the last two years, did not attend the Saturday and Sunday sales of 500 horses at his Bluegrass Farm in Lexington, Ky.
The auction came as Hunt and two of his brothers continue to battle bankruptcy and $1.5 billion in debts.
"It's like selling your children," he said.
In terms of the number of horses offered and gross revenue, the Hunt sale was the largest known public auction of thoroughbred stock in the nation, sales officials said.
The dispersal sale brought $46.9 million, including $2.5 million for the pregnant broodmare Sangue.
The 580 horses brought an average $80,882 each.
"I've always enjoyed horse sales," Hunt said from Dallas, "but I wouldn't have enjoyed this one. I didn't think I'd ever have to do this, but it's something I have to do, and there's nothing I can do about it."
He said that he also will sell the farm and that he plans to sell another 200 horses and the interests he owns in other thoroughbred stock.
Hunt and two of his brothers, heirs of the late billionaire H. L. Hunt, are battling 23 banks that claim they are owed $1.5 billion in oil debts.
The brothers have gone to bankruptcy court to reorganize and are still battling securities regulators for their involvement in the crash of the silver market.