Crown Jewel of FLDS Community to be Auctioned

KSL-TV, Utah/February 21, 2007
By John Hollenhorst

One of the crown jewels of the Warren Jeffs empire will go on the auction block next week. It's a multi-million dollar creation where the workmanship reflects the single-minded devotion of the jailed polygamist's followers.

It's a building, a big one. No one knows what it might be worth to an outsider, but the very fact it's being auctioned shows things in the polygamist community are really changing.

Experts say the building might be worth $6,000,000 in Las Vegas, but what's it worth in a place where people are, as Bruce Wisan says, "a little bit different?"

Bruce Wisan, court-appointed fiduciary: "Oh, I think it weighs against the price. How much, we'll see."

He's the court-appointed fiduciary who's putting the Western Precision building up for auction. It's 55,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space.

Bruce Wisan: "And when I say office space, I am talking about deluxe office space."

Decked out with unusually fancy trim and expensive-looking woodwork, it was the headquarters of a Jeffs-controlled business. In the factory area they made precision metal parts for airlines and defense contractors. It's abandoned now and under control of the courts.

Bruce Wisan: "With all of the publicity surrounding the F.L.D.S. church and Warren Jeffs, they thought that it was prudent for these businesses that were successful to move out of the community."

Isaac Wyler, former follower: "This was a room they held a lot of banquets and meetings and things like that in."

When he was still a Jeffs follower, Isaac Wyler helped build it. It has a second-level pedestrian bridge, built so Jeffs' late father wouldn't have to climb the stairs.

Isaac Wyler, former F.L.D.S. member: "Yeah we donated our labor and our time, and in many cases we donated materials, too. We were taught that it was the united order, and that was the thing to do."

Even the factory floor is engineered to a "T." It's precision-leveled for high tolerance manufacturing.

Wyler says this room was a wine-cellar with hundreds of bottles. Yes, he says, F.L.D.S. people drink.

Isaac Wyler: "Us workers were told not to, but the upper people did, quite a bit in fact! It was one of those things I had to put on the shelf, you know, 'do as they say, not as they do.'"

The hope is that a buyer will move in a business.

Bruce Wisan: "Create jobs and stimulate the economy."

Isaac Wyler: "The economy here is just really trashed since Warren did what he did."

Q: "But how would people fit in if they came here? I mean, would they?"

A: "Yes, they would. They may feel a little bit strange. But this town is changing, and people are becoming way more accepting of what's happening here."

To get in on the bidding, you have to have to put down a $25,000 deposit. The auction is at high noon next Tuesday, in the banquet room, just outside the wine cellar.

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