- Wikimedia Commons Stephen Marks
- Downtown Ketchum.
U.S. Bank is now the unlikely owner of Ketchum's Bellemont Hotel (formerly the Clarion Inn) following a March 31 foreclosure auction.
Bank officials said former owner Peter Lewis, who opened the hotel in the 1990s, defaulted on a $3.6 million loan after declaring bankruptcy in 2011. In January, the bank cut off a $119,000 annual salary being paid to the former owner, arguing Lewis' paychecks were draining the hotel's assets.
Now, this week's Idaho Mountain Express reports the hotel was put on the auction block as the bank attempted to recoup debts totaling $4.3 million. When an interested party, which operates hotels in Miami, entered the bidding fray March 31, representatives of U.S. Bank continually upped the total in $100,000 increments. The strategy backfired, because when the bank bid $4.3 million, the challenger would not top the offer. It turns out United States bankruptcy law allows a creditor—in this case, the bank—to bid on its own seized property without having to put up the cash.
Now U.S. Bank has a Ketchum hotel to operate.