In March 2020, at the height of the panic about the new Covid-19 pandemic, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) auctioned off 11 offshore gold lease tracts to the public. In a largely uncovered story, 1,000 gold-loaded offshore acres were up for grabs in the first public auction in almost a decade – and the results might surprise you.
If you want a quick explanation of how offshore gold claims work in Nome, Alaska check out our article here.
We at Bering Sea Paydirt recently got our hands on the results of the auction through a public information request from DNR and were shocked to find that one man we all know – Vernon Adkison – had the highest bid for almost every single lease available for sale. That was over 88% of the available acreage in the auction!
Except for a few small tracts east of the Nome River that he didn’t even bid on, Vernon shelled out big round numbers to win 8 of the 11 contests. He bid between $25,000 and $75,000 for each lease, with the total price tag running over $300,000. It appears Vernon’s strategy was to offer the most for the leases that are largest and closest to Nome harbor: 16 and 56.
And he didn’t win the auction by a little bit – half the time he WAY outbid the competition. He are the 2nd place bids:
Lease 13: Vernon bid $25,000 – 2nd place bid just $7,875
Lease 16: Vernon bid $75,000 – 2nd place bid $63,982
Lease 21: Vernon bid $40,000 – 2nd place bid a measly $14,125
Lease 24: Vernon bid $30,000 – 2nd place bid $15,776
Lease 26: Vernon bid $25,000 – 2nd place bid $21,175
Lease 28: Vernon bid $25,000 – 2nd place bid a paltry $6,765
Lease 36: Vernon bid $40,000 – 2nd place bid just $16,776
Lease 56: Vernon bid $50,000 – 2nd place bid $32,605
Curiously, Vernon didn’t appear to put his money where his mouth was in most cases. He only ultimately bought three of the leases and let the rest fall to the 2nd, or even 3rd-highest bids.
It appears he only had the money (or the stomach) to foot the bill for the three largest leases: 16, 21, and 56 which total a whopping 689 acres, which was still 65% of the available acreage.
Was this blanket high-bidding part of some secret Vernon shotgun strategy? Did his bank account run dry before he could pay for them all? Did investors pull out at the last second? Did he just get a little too “spiritual” on the Jameson’s before the auction and decide to moderate his investment after sobering up?
We may never know, but it appears Vernon is making a play to become one of the major lease owners in the offshore gold mining business in Nome.
If he’s successful, that could spell major trouble for some of the smaller miners we watch on Bering Sea Gold, as the feisty and competitive Vernon holds the keys to Nome’s offshore golden kingdom. We wouldn’t want to be his vassals.
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