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Entrepreneur, John McAfee's Property Is Sold at Auction

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Entrepreneur, John McAfee's Property Is Sold at Auction
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August 31, 2009
[size=14][b]Software Entrepreneur’s Property Is Sold at Auction[/b][/size]

The software entrepreneur John McAfee, whose fortune has dwindled to about $4 million, from more than $100 million, sold the last of his major real estate holdings on Saturday: a 157-acre spread in Rodeo, N.M., where he and his friends flew lightweight airplanes.

The property was sold at auction for $1.15 million.

In a telephone interview, Mr. McAfee said he was relieved that the auction was behind him so that he could get back to his life in Belize. Jim Gall, president of the Auction Company of America, handled the auction and estimated that 400 people, from 22 states, showed up to bid on the property.

Mr. McAfee had agreed to sell the property to the highest bidder, no matter how low the price, as he needed cash to pay his bills amid the downturn in real estate and stocks. He said the final sale price was roughly in line with what he had expected.

Mr. McAfee bought the land in 2004 and then poured an estimated $11.5 million into building a complex that would accommodate visitors interested in aerotrekking, the flying of unlicensed, lightweight planes with open cockpits.

After reading about aerotrekking in an airline magazine on a flight to Nepal some years ago, Mr. McAfee said, he was intrigued by the concept. He took flying lessons in Phoenix and then sought a suitable place to build a base where he could fly safely. After searching for several months through the Southwestern United States, he settled on Rodeo — a desolate area with very little air traffic, making it safe to fly.

To accommodate his fellow fliers, he built a general store, cafe, movie theater and several hangars. His home on the property had two guest houses and a swimming pool. He also bought a fleet of antique cars for his guests to use.

Mr. McAfee, who started McAfee Associates in the late 1980s to sell computer antivirus software, had made a fortune of about $100 million by 1994, when he sold off his last shares of the company, about two years after it went public.

The recent collapse of the stock and real estate markets has quickly taken a huge toll on his fortunes. Over the years, he had built several homes in remote locations.

In late August, he sold a property in Hawaii for about $1.5 million. In 2007, he sold a 10,000-square-foot home in Colorado with a view of Pike’s Peak for $5.7 million. He had invested about $25 million in the land and the main houses and guest houses that he built on the Colorado property.
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