The enormous mansion in Northern Virginia was built as a monument to Rodney P. Hunt’s success, a trophy estate along the Potomac River to mark his rise from teen lawn-mowing hustler to government contracting multimillionaire.
But on Thursday, the home on Chain Bridge Road in McLean — valued at $24.5 million — was auctioned on the steps of the Arlington County courthouse for $7.3 million to an undisclosed buyer in one of the region’s largest foreclosure sales.
Hunt, 55, who had staved off foreclosure for several years amid massive debts, drug charges and bankruptcy proceedings, had finally suffered the ultimate reversal of his fortunes.
The 20,000-square-foot estate he built sits on a bluff that overlooks the Potomac. Once featured on “MTV Cribs,” it boasts five bedrooms, a detached guest house, a basketball court, his-and-her gyms, a two-lane bowling alley, a movie theater and an underground garage with 15 spaces.
So far, the buyer is anonymous because the deal will not close for another month, according to Rick Sharga, the executive vice president of Ten-X, the parent company of Auction.com, which conducted the sale.
Hunt, who filed for bankruptcy in early November 2015 and cited debts between $10 million and $50 million, could not be reached for comment.
He once ran RSIS, one of the country’s most successful black-owned contracting firms. Certified as a minority-owned small business, the technology company won computer-networking contracts with federal agencies and the military. At its peak in 2005, the firm employed 1,700 people.
In 2007, Northern Virginia Magazine estimated Hunt’s net worth was $265 million after he sold RSIS to a California-based aerospace company. That same year, Hunt took out a $9.4 million loan from Bank of America to finance the construction of his McLean estate. The bank reported that he defaulted on his payments. Additionally, court and land records indicate he also owed more than $10 million on other loans and investments that went south, prompting creditors to file lawsuits seeking more pieces of his fortune.
In Thursday’s foreclosure sale, Bank of America got less than what it needed. But Sharga said it is not unusual for a foreclosure auction to fetch a price below what the bank sought to recoup its debt, especially for a big mortgage secured at the height of the Great Recession.
Walter R. Kirkman, an attorney for Bank of America in Hunt’s bankruptcy case, and Hunt’s bankruptcy attorney, Daniel M. Press, declined to comment. Hunt’s bankruptcy trustee, Janet M. Meiburger, did not return messages.
The Hunt house initially attracted four suitors Thursday, but one dropped out once he learned his highest offer fell below the $6 million opening bid. The winning buyer has already put down $100,000 and plans to move in and use it as a personal property, Sharga said.
For much of his career, Hunt spoke publicly about his success, telling Minority Business Entrepreneur magazine that he wanted to be the “Robert Johnson of government IT,” referring to the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.
But Hunt’s credit problems also revealed credibility problems.
For a 2012 Washington Post investigation into Hunt’s rise and fall, registrars at Cornell and George Washington University shot down his claims that he had earned degrees from their institutions, though he did attend them. He once gave a speech at Cornell, boasting that he owned a percentage of the Washington Nationals and served as the team’s “special consultant,” but the organization’s spokeswoman said neither was true. Hunt’s claims that he played minor league baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals also could not be verified by the ball club’s farm director.
His exaggerations included the assertion that he had started building his fortune at the age of 13 by mowing people’s lawns in Prince George’s County, where he had grown up.
“By the time I was 17, I had half a million dollars in the bank,” he said in the Cornell speech.
Hunt’s bankruptcy case in federal court includes allegations from one of his creditors, a Texas woman who sued Hunt in 2010, that he had raped her in July 2009 while she was sleeping at the Hotel Derek in Houston; her evidence included an affidavit filed by a witness who was in the room at the time of the incident. (The Post generally does not name victims of alleged sexual assault.)
But Hunt denied her allegations and argued that the woman filed the lawsuit for “the purposes of harassing” and “extorting” him so he would eventually settle “to avoid having his reputation tarnished,” according to his court filings.
Around the time of the alleged assault, Hunt was known for hosting parties at the Hotel Derek and even listed it as his address on a 2009 drug arrest record. He had been trying to remake himself as a hip-hop and fashion mogul. Hunt’s son, Bradley, was an aspiring rap artist who went by the moniker Kid Named Breezy.
Shortly before the civil trial was scheduled in February 2014, Hunt agreed to pay the woman a settlement of $100,000, according to court records. But he failed to pay her, prompting her to sue him again for breaching the settlement. Last year, she won a $611,100 judgment, according to court records.
In February, the woman filed a complaint in Hunt’s bankruptcy case in Virginia, asking the judge to order Hunt to make the payment.
The bankruptcy matter is hardly his last ordeal in court. On Aug. 12, 2015, he was arrested for drug possession in Arlington County, court records show. He pleaded guilty and was given a six-month suspended sentence and a $166 fine. But the case remains active. He has two hearings in the matter scheduled for August.
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this story.