Milhous Collection attracts new, diverse and eager bidders
By Larry Edsall
As one veteran classic car auction watcher put it, "The Milhous sale was a barn burner. It attracted an entirely new group of bidders. There was more than ‘the usual suspects' attending the sale."
Combine an eager and new audience, the amazing setting of the Milhous Museum, and the quality of the docket -- which included not only classic cars but historic musical instruments and even an entire 48-foot carousel -- and the event staged by RM and Southeby's was ripe for records. And it delivered.
The sale of the Milhous Collection brought in $38.3 million, topped by $3.3 million for a 1912 Oldsmobile Limited five-passenger touring car (see photo by Darin Schnabel). The car, a Pebble Beach class winner believed to be the last survivor of its year and model, previously had been owned by the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, by Thomas Barrett III and by Otis Chandler. The sales price was an Oldsmobile record, eclipsing the $3.24 million figure the 1954 Olds F-88 concept car brought at Barrett-Jackson in 2005.
"The incredible quality and presentation of the collection captured the attention of the global collector world," said RM Auctions founder Rob Myers. "Never before has such a wonderful series of automobiles, mechanical musical instruments and collectibles been offered to the public in one location. In terms of its diversity, international interest and results, it set a new benchmark for this type of private collection sale."
The Milhous Collection was assembled over several decades by brothers Bob and Paul Milhous, who decided it finally was time to part with the contents of their private museum in Boca Raton, Florida.
Six of the top-10 sales were classic vehicles. In addition to the 1912 Olds, a 1933 Chrysler Custom Imperial five-passenger phaeton created for designer Ralph Roberts went for $1.265 million; a 1934 Cadillac Sixteen custom roadster brought $1.001 million, a 1939 Lagonda V-12 Rapide sports roadster formerly owned by actor Robert Montgomery and a Murphy-bodied 1930 Duesenberg Model J convertible sedan formerly owned by actress Delores Del Rio each went for $990,000 and a 1937 Cadillac Sixteen custom phaeton sold for $962,500. The custom Cadillacs were the work of Fleetwood and designers Strother MacMinn and Dave Holls.
A 1903 Ruth style 38-B fair organ, one of only two remaining, sold for $1.265 million; the 46-foot custom carousel with 42 animals, two chariots and a Wurlitzer 153 band organ brought $1.2075 million; a Gaudin 125-key dance organ went for $1.15 million; and a 1913 Welte Wotan brass band orchestron built for the BobLo Island amusement park brought $1.0925 million.
'39 Bugatti 57C best at Boca
A 1939 Bugatti 57C was judged "best in show" at the sixth annual Boca Raton Concours d'Elegance held the same weekend as the Milhous Collection auction. A 1942 Lincoln Continental took the People's Choice award at an event that generated more than $1 million for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.
OKC is A-OK with Leake
Leake Auction Co. opened its 40th anniversary celebration in Oklahoma City, where 70 percent of vehicles sold for a total of $4.2 million. The high sale was $165,000 for a 1968 Shelby GT500. A 1958 Cadillac Eldorado went for $80,000. A 1966 Hemi-powered Plymouth Satellite and a 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda each brought $70,000.
Of 284 vehicles offered, 198 were hammered sold.
"This was a great way to kick off our 40th anniversary," said Richard Sevenoaks, Leake president.
Leake held its first classic car auction in 1964, but it wasn't until 1972 that it began staging such events on an annual basis, therefore the 40th anniversary season in 2012.
Leake's next event is April 20-21 at San Antonio.
Auction action calendar
Upcoming classic car auctions include:
March 3, Dan Kruse Classics Dick Burdick Museum Collection auction at Smithville, Texas
March 9, Gooding & Company at Amelia Island
March 10, RM Auctions at Amelia Island
March 16-18, Auctions America by RM Collector Cars of Fort Lauderdale
March 29-31, Mecum Spring auction at Kansas City
March 30-31, Silver Auctions at Portland
Endurance racing stars gather at Amelia
The annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegnace will feature The Great Endurance Drivers Seminar, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. March 10, with five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell; Porsche factory racer and Nurburgring 1000-winner Joe Buzzetta; Monte Carlo rally champion Vic Elford; Chaparral builder and racer Jim Hall; five-time Daytona 24 winner Hurley Haywood; racer-turned-TV commentator David Hobbs; Le Man car builder and racer Gerard Larrousse; American racing star Sam Posey; and multi-race winner Brian Redman talking about their sport and their careers.
Featured at the concours the following day will be the 50th anniversaries of the Ferrari GTO and Shelby Cobra, historic Hollywood star cars, the art of Stan Mott (featuring the 100th anniversary of Italy's Pignatelli marque), and more.
Click here for event calendar.
Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.