November 18, 2020 at 9:44 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Legal rights to DC Eagle name sold to mystery buyer
D.C. Eagle, gay news, nightlife, Benning Road, Washington Blade
The DC Eagle on Benning Road closed for good in May. (Blade file photo by Lou Chibbaro Jr.)

In a little-noticed development, an unidentified buyer has purchased the legal rights to the name, trademark, logo, and other intellectual property belonging to the DC Eagle, D.C.’s longest continuously operating gay bar that closed its doors for good in May.

The sale was finalized on Nov. 12 as part of an auction authorized by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia a little over four months after the DC Eagle filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on June 26.

Rasmus Auctions, the company retained by the bankruptcy court to conduct the online auction, announced on its website that the purchase price for the winning bidder was $32,800. But the announcement did not disclose the identity of the purchaser. A company spokesperson said Rasmus Auctions has a longstanding policy of not disclosing the identity of purchasers or those who submit bids in its auctions.

Bryan S. Ross, an attorney named by the bankruptcy court as the trustee for the case of Eagle N Exile, LLC, the company that owned the DC Eagle, did not respond to a call from the Blade asking if the court could disclose the identity of the purchaser of the rights to the DC Eagle name, trademark, logo, and other intellectual property.

An attorney representing one of the DC Eagle’s owners informed its employees in an online staff meeting on May 4 that the owners decided to permanently close the popular leather bar after learning the building it rented was sold and it would have to move out by September, according to former Eagle manager Miguel Ayala.

Ayala, who attended the meeting, said employees were informed that DC Eagle principal owner Ted Clements and part owner Peter Lloyd decided to dissolve the business rather than search for a new location. The announcement came not long after the Eagle and most other D.C. bars, restaurants, and nightclubs were ordered by the city to temporarily shut down as part of the city’s COVID-19 emergency public health restrictions.

The May announcement of the permanent closing came six months before the DC Eagle was expected to celebrate its 49th anniversary as the city’s iconic bar and club catering to the leather-Levi crowd. In recent years, the club expanded its outreach to others in the LGBTQ community by hosting popular drag shows and dance parties.

The DC Eagle’s building at 3701 Benning Road, N.E. was its fourth location since it first opened on 9th Street, N.W. in downtown D.C. in 1971. After being displaced by downtown development, the club subsequently moved to 7th Street, N.W. and later to New York Ave., N.W., all within a few blocks of each other in the downtown area.

The DC Eagle moved into the Benning Road location, a four-story warehouse building that was by far its largest site, in 2015 not long after it bought that building. Longtime customers and supporters thought the purchase would protect the Eagle from being displaced yet again by real estate development.

But Clements told the Blade last year that he and his fellow owners decided to sell the building to generate needed revenue with the intent to lease it back from the new owner and to continue to operate the club at that location. He and then part owner Herb Kaylor-Hawkins said they were hopeful the revenue generated by the sale would help the DC Eagle overcome financial problems it was encountering at that time and lead to years of future operations.

Clements and the other owners declined to comment in May at the time they disclosed the club was going out of business.

Speculation surfaced that the owner of the Baltimore Eagle, a popular gay bar in that city, or possibly the Centaurs motorcycle club, a gay organization that has organized the annual D.C. Mid Atlantic Leather Weekend until the COVID epidemic forced its cancellation this year, may be one of the parties that purchased the DC Eagle’s name, trademark and other property rights.

When contacted by the Blade, Baltimore Eagle principal owner Ian Parish sent a brief statement by email.

“Regarding the DC Eagle intellectual property, I regret I have no information I can pass on to you at this time,” Parish said. “I can say: An Eagle bar is more than a name; fellowship, service, and community are among the leather community’s most proud traditions, and it is our hope to share with the new DC Eagle owners these traditions and all the love of the Baltimore Eagle,” he stated.

Tod White, president of the Centaurs, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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