On a Tuesday in August, attorney Mark Riley showed up to hold a foreclosure sale at the courthouse in downtown Austin expecting to see a handful of wealthy buyers interested in bidding on a prime piece of real estate valued at $14.5 million.
As it turned out, he was met with a crowd — just not the one he expected.
“It was a traveling circus and freak show,” said Riley, a trustee who has conducted a couple hundred foreclosure sales over his career. “These were not people that go to foreclosure sales and bid. There was a mix of guys in jeans and polo shirts and then people that look like they got paid $25 and a sandwich to come, to hang out.”
Riley says it appeared to be a coordinated attempt to stall the foreclosure sale by the building’s owner, real estate investor Nate Paul, who had wielded a