Ten days of online bidding on a lavish red-carpet evening at the landmark castle, part of a weekend party for 10 people, starts at 8:30 p. m. Sept. 17 on eBay. The winning bid will go toward a drive to establish a $20 million to $30 million endowment to restore and preserve the art collection and San Simeon estate built by William Randolph Hearst.
Bidding ends during the Friends of Hearst Castle's sold-out annual "Enchanted Evening" wine reception and dinner Sept. 27.
The Castle is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a state park. The winning bidder and one guest will be the first guests in more than 50 years to spend the night in the estate's main building, La Casa Grande.
First, though, the winning bidder and nine guests will enjoy a customized private castle tour, swim in the Neptune Pool, martinis and hors d'oeuvres in the Castle's wine cellar, a gourmet feast and Central Coast wines on the Neptune Terrace, a movie in Hearst's private theater and cigars and brandy overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As the lucky couple are escorted to their bedroom in the Castle's south wing, overlooking the Pacific, their guests will go by limousine to The Cottontail Creek Ranch in Cayucos. The next day, the group will reunite for a vineyard-winery tour, a wine-country feast and another night at the Cayucos ranch.
Carol Schreiber, executive director of the Friends group, said she can only dream what the winning bid will be. "We hope we see $100,000 or better," she said.
The winning bidder will have until October 2009 to make arrangements for the weekend visit.
Potential bidders need to go to www.ebay.com/hearstcastle before bidding.