A 'flea market' -- for millionaires only

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Some of the world's wealthiest people will get together this month in Reno, Nevada, for a garage sale like no one has ever seen before.

On the block will be a Caribbean island, a $40 million hotel casino, Lear jets, oil wells, shopping centers, and other costly items the super-rich might have trouble unloading in the midst of worldwide recession.

The millionaires' flea market, a three-day real-life Monopoly game beginning Aug. 18 at the posh MGM Grand Hotel in Reno, is the creation of Brian Lovig, a youthful Canadian developer from Edmonton, capital of Canada's oil province, Alberta.

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Just to get into the swap-a-thon costs $5,000. Mr. Lovig says 160 tickets have already been spoken for by entrepreneurs from Hong Kong, Britain, West Germany, Saudi Arabia, and North America.

''The response has been very good,'' he says, adding that his original target was to bring in 100 buyers and sellers. Now that goal has been raised to 500, but he says he's not sure he will reach that number.

Mr. Lovig, who says he himself made $1 million in real estate, got the idea for the swapping bee not long ago when he was having trouble finding buyers. He figured other financiers might be having the same problem.

''The idea is to get a lot of top people with money of their own or money they control together,'' he says. ''I guess you could say it's like a flea market or bazaar.''

Indeed. It is estimated that the three days of wheeling and dealings in Reno could see deals struck with a total worth in the tens of millions of dollars - perhaps billions.

Already, Lovig says, numerous items are scheduled to go on the block. They include an island in the Caribbean and the Mapes Hotel Casino located in Reno, plus a wide range of oil properties and other assets.

But, Lovig says happily, so far more buyers than sellers have signed up.

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