The most vocal contender was Sam Ben-Avraham, an investor in the streetwear brand Kith and founder of a number of trade shows, who viewed Barneys as a New York landmark that could be reconceived as a new kind of shopping destination.
Just a week before the sale, Mr. Ben-Avraham was still insisting that his offer was on the way, even though the bid deadline had passed; a planned auction was canceled and a statement was released by Authentic Brands and Saks, saying that they had triumphed. It was “not over,” he said.
Days later, David Jackson, chairman of Solitaire Partners and former chief executive of Istithmar World, the Dubai-based group that owned Barneys until 2012, said that he was also planning to bid. On Wednesday evening, Mr. Ben-Avraham was close to announcing that he was backing out — and then changed his mind on Thursday morning.
That set the stage for a suspenseful hearing on a drizzling Halloween afternoon, as the bankruptcy judge, Cecelia G. Morris, prepared to approve the bid from B. Riley and Authentic Brands.
Joshua Sussberg, a lawyer representing Barneys, opened the proceedings with the news that it had not yet found an alternative. Still, it was their fiduciary duty to maximize the value of the company, Mr. Sussberg said, which meant “keeping jobs and stores open, viable, available for employees, for landlords, for trade vendors.” Barneys employs about 2,300 people, 2,100 of them full-time. And so, he said, if a “higher and/or better” offer came in before 10 a.m. on Friday, he would be making a phone call to the judge.
The judge, in her light Southern drawl, offered the use of six empty conference rooms at the courthouse to help speed along potential negotiations with Mr. Ben-Avraham, Mr. Jackson or others. Richard Chesley, a lawyer for Authentic Brands, was incredulous at Barneys’ refusal to face the reality that they had no alternatives, noting that his client had “abided by the rules from the beginning of this process.”
“We’re not here wearing a black hat at all,” Mr. Chesley said. “This process has been fair, it has been open, it has been reported on and people have been working on this day and night, but the process has to end. It has to end by the rules.”