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Chandler mansion, contents up for auction

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Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2009 4:36 pm | Updated: 12:47 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A well-known Chandler mansion on Kyrene Road, with its hidden passages and rooms and even an underground dungeon, will reveal its secrets Saturday, when the home and all of its contents will be sold at public auction.

Slideshow: Explore the Kyrene Road mansion

A well-known Chandler mansion on Kyrene Road, with its hidden passages and rooms and even an underground dungeon, will reveal its secrets Saturday, when the home and all of its contents will be sold at public auction.

The 10.5-acre estate, partially hidden away behind a fence and hedgerow at 1220 N. Kyrene Road, between Warner and Ray roads, features a 20-room main house, a lake with a dock, a tennis court, and a luxurious outdoor pool and spa. It went into foreclosure after the June death of its most recent owner, Steven Soraya, 50, a Tempe dentist.

Donna Salim, Soraya's personal assistant, said he lived in the house with his wife and young daughter for a year before being diagnosed with bladder cancer. He had specialized in sedation dentistry.

SLIDESHOW: Explore the Kyrene Road mansion

"It was a dream house for him, a house he always wished he owned," Salim said.

After the diagnosis, Soraya and his family moved to southern California for treatment. His dental practice suffered as a result, she said. Salim said Soraya was well-loved, and about 500 people attended his funeral. His wife and daughter remain in Irvine, with no plans to return to Chandler, she said. His dental practice likely will be sold, as well.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, the doors will be thrown open to the public and all the peculiar furniture and artwork and even a couple of cars and a motorcycle will be auctioned off to pay creditors, said Deb Weidenhamer, CEO of Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers Inc.

Weidenhamer said Soraya bought the estate furnished about two years ago from Cable Rosenberg, who has been linked to Internet pornography. The interior design leans toward Gothic, with a lot of carved hardwood fixtures and classical statuary, she said. One wall in the library features a large mural depicting a horn-helmed, axe-wielding warrior on horseback with several bodies at his feet.

"I'm not so sure that everybody needs a bronze statue of Neptune," Weidenhamer said, standing next to the 7-foot sculpture. "There is so much interest in the property that things could be selling very high. However, it's extremely specific to a kind of taste."

The mansion, which is bank owned, will also be offered at auction with a down payment required and a bid that must be approved by the bank.

Online bidding on the auction house's Web site is already under way. About 500 people are expected at the public auction this weekend, Weidenhamer said. There are no minimum bids, and each of the hundreds of items up for sale will go to the highest bidder.

Weidenhamer said she found several of the home's hidden passages herself. One of them, just off the master bedroom behind a wood-paneled wall, leads upstairs to two rooms designed to be maid's chambers. The entry had to be forced with a crowbar, she said. Another passage behind a bookcase leads up to a hidden room in a turret, with a high ceiling.

Another secret passage leads down a narrow stone stairway into an underground "dungeon."

It costs about $35,000 a month for utilities and landscaping to maintain the estate, Weidenhamer said. The expansive lawns have turned brown, and the landscaping has given way to weeds and lizards.

The house also features a butler's quarters; a 20-car garage; a game room with pool, poker and craps tables; and a movie room capable of seating 20 people in wooden pews. The grounds also feature a guest cottage that has been converted into a gym.

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