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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
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Sale of Madonia farming empire approved by bankruptcy court

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PLANT CITY A bankruptcy court has approved the sale of many of the assets of the owners of an iconic hotel for $75 million.

However, the Red Rose Inn and Suites itself remains on the market after the bankruptcy trustee rejected the $2.1 million high bid.

Thousands of acres of farmland, homes, packing houses and more owned by Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr. in Florida and Virginia were sold to the highest bidders at seven auctions. The bids needed approval of the bankruptcy court for the sales to become final.

Trustee Jerry McHale told the court the amount of money brought in by the auctions exceeded expectations, a news release says.

Some potential buyers have expressed an interest in the Red Rose, known for its Southern decor. Evelyn Madonia became a local celebrity for the glitzy outfits she often wore in television commercials for the hotel, which closed last year.

The Madonias, whose main business was tomatoes, and companies they control filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Murray Wise, chief executive officer of the auction company Murray Wise Associates, estimated 13,000 man hours went into the auctions and related work.

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