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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

May 2010 Auctions Review
By Larry Edsall

Russo and Steele files suit against AZ tent provider.
The storm that felled the tents at the Russo and Steele auction in Scottsdale in January apparently did more than damage the cars beneath the canvas.

Contending it was "on the verge of becoming much larger, and on the verge of entering new markets, new venues that would greatly enhance its visibility and market share," Russo and Steele filed suit in Arizona Superior Court against tent provider Tri-Rentals, Inc.

The suit claims "negligence; gross negligence; breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing." The suit contends that if Tri-Rentals had complied "with the standards of care in the industry and its representations to Russo and Steele, the tents would not have failed and Russo and Steele would not have been damaged."

Instead, "because the tents failed, Russo and Steele was significantly impaired in its ability to conduct its premier auction as scheduled.

"Although Russo and Steele later was able to resume the action on a limited basis, the tent failure caused by Tri-Rentals' breaches of duty resulted in the loss of significant business opportunities.

"As a proximate result of Tri-Rentals' breach of its duties, Russo and Steele has incurred significant damages in an amount to be proven." In a prepared statement, Russo and Steele said it was notified by the City of Scottsdale Flood Planning Department of a potential flooding hazard from the predicted storm, but "allowed the auction site to remain open because of Russo and Steele's diligence in securing the site for visitors. The auction company took a number of precautions to ensure the safety of the attendees, while Tri-Rentals advised Russo and Steele that they were reinforcing the tents, and assured the auction company that the site was secure. "Contrary to earlier reports, Russo and Steele took the same precautions as other auction companies in the vicinity in order to prepare for the weather. These precautions included securing multiple industrial water pumps, ordering several hundred feet of commercial concrete barricades, as well as repositioning semi trucks and trailers to block the impending wind."

Four top $3 million at RM Monaco. RM Auctions' inaugural Sporting Classics of Monaco event achieved sales of $45 million with seven cars topping the $1-million mark. Bidders came from 33 countries and 28 percent of those bidders were new to RM. Some 86 percent of cars offered were sold, led by a 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB cabriolet by Pininfarina for $400 short of $3.8 million. Also topping the $3-million mark were a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta for $3.57 million, a 1960 "Birdcage" Maserati Tipo 61 for $3.34 million, and a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Tour de France for $3,19 million.

A 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder went for $2.81 million and a 1938 Delahaye 135 MS competition cabriolet brought $2.43 million.

Also exceeding $1 million were a 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II "Special Town Car" by Brewster ($1.975 million), a 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 17590 Zagato Spider ($1.193 million), a 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Berlinetta ($1.063 million), a 1967 Ferrari 250 GTB/4 Berlinetta ($1.041 million), and a 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra roadster Le Mans race car $1.01 million).

As impressive as those sales may be, they all fell short of the auction's high bid: $5.835,100 for the 1937 BMW 328 MM "Buegefalte" that was "cover car" for the auction catalog. Though that bid did not meet the car's reserve, RM reported that the car did sell within 24 hours of the auction for an undisclosed price in a "post-event transaction."

It is standard practice at auctions to allow post-sale negotiations involving a vehicle owner, the high bidder and the auction house when the high bid does not reach a car's reserve price. If the reserve on the BMW was, say, $6 million, the post-sales price likely was less than that amount but higher than the high bid.

Classic Muscle & Modern Performance is the name of a one-day sale of a private, single-owner collection scheduled for June 19 in San Diego by RM Auctions. The catalog includes more than 80 vehicles, ranging from Detroit muscle to low-mileage, high-performance modern European machines, all to be sold without reserve. Highlights of the collection, according to RM, are a 1969 L88 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1970 LS6 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible and a 1965 "Tiger Gold" Pontiac GTO driven by the consignor's parents when he was a child.

RM's annual Classic Car Auction of Michigan in historic Novi showed sales of $2.5 million led by a 1958 Pontiac Parisienne Canadian-built convertible at $104,500.

The auction featured 25 vehicles from the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, which sold the cars to raise money for its exhibitions, educational programs, vehicle preservation effort and enthusiast and community programs and events. A 1904 Rambler Model L Tonneau went for $71,500, a 1904 Overland Runabout for $41,250 and a 1918 Nash Quad Truck brought $24,200.

"The Walter P. Chrysler Museum is very pleased with collectors' response to the vehicles auctioned on our behalf and to see these low mileage, original vehicles in the possession of enthusiasts who share a passion for preserving automotive history," said Jim Worton, the museum's executive director. "The proceeds will help secure the Museum's financial future as a newly independent non-profit public charity."

RM returns to Michigan for its 16th annual Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook, July 24 in conjunction with the recently renamed Concours d'Elegance of America. Already consigned for that event are a pair of Duesenberg Model Js, a 1953 Chrysler GS-1 Thomas Special and a 1903 Ford Model A rear-entrance tonneau.

Mecum's Spring Kansas City auction had a 62 percent sell-through rate with total sales of $6.375 million, even though only one vehicle topped the $100,000 mark - a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427 coupe selling for $125,000.

Dana Mecum noted that the more than six-million dollars "nearly tripled" the total sales figure from the same event in 2009. That fact should make Mecum optimistic about his upcoming and 23rd Original Spring Classic Auction, May 19-23 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, where more than 1750 vehicles are on the docket, including General Motors' design head Harley J. Earl's personally modified 1963 Corvette.

Who says crime doesn't pay (for seizure auction bidders)? Vehicles from a 2008 Bugatti Veyron to a 33-foot 2005 Riva Aquariva Super will be sold through a U.S. Dept. of the Treasury Seized & Forfeited General Property Program auction June 3 at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The property was acquired by Scott Rothstein and others through a ponzi scheme and was seized as part of the investigation and prosecution case against Rothstein, who entered a guilty plea and faces up to 100 years in prison.

Cars sold at the auction will include the Veyron, a 2009 Bentley Continental GTC, 2007 Rolls-Royce Phantom, 2009 Ferrari 430 Spyder, 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR, 2009 Maserati GT and 2010 Lamborghini LP-670SV.

Mark your calendars

May
14-16 - Kruse Spring at Auburn, Indiana
15-16 - Goodguys Orange County Get-Together, Costa Mesa, California
16-21 - New England 1000, Stowe, Vermont
19-23 - Mecum auction at Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis
21-23 - Goodguys Nashville Nationals, Nashville, Tennessee

June
4-5 - MotoeXotica - St. Louis, MO
4-6 - Goodguys Colorado Nationals. Loveland, Colorado
4-6 - VCRA Sugar Valley rally, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
5 - RM Pate Museum auction, Cresson, Texas
5-6 - Goodguys Summer Get-Together. Pleasanton, California
5-6 - Funfest for air-cooled Volkswagens, Mid America Motorworks, Effingham, Illinois
11-13 - Kruse/Leake at Tulsa, Oklahoma
11-13 - Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals, Indianapolis
12 - Fountain Valley Car and Truck Show, Fountain Valley, California (www.fvcarshow.com)

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