Mustang Ranch collection on eBay
December 27, 2004
Once again, relics of Nevada’s prostitution past will end up on eBay.
A Chicago man will sell his collection of Mustang Ranch memorabilia on the online auction house next week. The bidding starts at $25,000 for all 13 items. Only about a year ago, the Mustang Ranch itself was put on eBay, selling for $145,000.
The collection of decorative items from Nevada’s most notorious house of prostitution is owned by Joe Wallace, a mechanical contractor.
Items in his collection include the front sign frame of the Mustang I building, ornamental lights that once graced the front entrance and etched- glass panels.
Wallace said he obtained most of the items from the Internal Revenue Service’s December 2002 Mustang Ranch auction. The ranch closed after the IRS seized it in 1999, after the conviction of its manager and parent companies in a fraud and racketeering case.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management took over the property and had plans to level it because the buildings were in a flood plain. Instead, BLM sold the property and its name on eBay for $145,000 to Lance Gilman, who owns the Wild Horse Canyon Resort & Spa in Storey County.
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A recent search on eBay for “Mustang Ranch” brought up about 34 items, from a coffee mug to a ladies’ tank top with the famous logo in bright pink. The most expensive item on the page as of Monday was a $70 miniature decanter.
Wallace said his fascination with the Mustang Ranch began with the Gold Lady Table. He bought the table in 2000 for $700 at an antique store, which began his hunt for other Mustang items. He once owned the original front gate of Joe Conforte’s brothel, but sold it to another collector.
“I bought the table to begin with, and I’ve always been interested,” he said Monday. “I was sort of bored at the time, and I like finding and collecting things. Mustang Ranch is one of the most famous places out there.”
Although he wouldn’t say how much he’s invested in the collection, Wallace is confident there is another collector who can appreciate it.
At one time, he aspired to acquire the old Mustang Ranch building from the BLM, move it to a nearby location, and open a bar, museum and restaurant. But when the BLM put the brothel and its name for sale on eBay, that “squashed my plans.”
Wallace worked in Reno as a mechanical contractor from 2002 until last May. This is the first time he’s sold an item on eBay.
He said the most interesting item is the front sign frame of the brothel used from 1991 to 1999. The front face of the sign is missing, but Wallace said it could be replaced for $1,500 from the company that originally made the sign.
For information, contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mustang Ranch collection to be sold on eBay:
• Front sign frame used by the brothel in the 1990s
• Decorative Italian lights put on the building in 1976
• Etched-glass panels. One says “Joe and Sally’s Mustang Ranch”: two other panels have the horse-and-girl logo
• Decoupage Mustang Ranch movie posters
• Keybox from the security office
• Keyboard with pink logo
• A schedule board from Mustang Ranch I and II
• The headboard to Joe Conforte’s bed
• Part of the Mustang II sign
• T-shirt autographed by Conforte
• Other original pieces, such as an ashtray and lighters