RM Sotheby’s experiment with an entry-level collector car auction company appears to be coming to a close with the annual Auctions America Auburn Fall sale taking place this weekend at the Auburn Auction Park in northeast Indiana.
Worldwide Auctioneers also has a sale this weekend in Auburn.
Just as with what had been an Auctions America sale in the historic Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, this sale is being retitled for 2018, when the twice-a-year Auburn Auction will be presented not by Auctions America but by RM Sotheby’s.
When RM founder Rob Myers and company did the deal to take over what had been the venue for Kruse Auctions a few years ago, RM also launched the Auctions America brand to stage a series of sales geared more to the mainstream of the collector car hobby than to the six- and seven-figure vehicles that tend to fill the RM sales catalogs.
But that was before Myers sold a significant piece of RM to global art auction house Sotheby’s. The RM Sotheby’s joint effort has been a huge success, bringing new customers from the art-collecting world to classic cars as investments that can be appreciated as you use them, not merely as you look at them.
There has been speculation lately that Myers, who has been in the restoration and auction businesses for nearly 40 years, was about to retire, that Sotheby’s would take over full control and that entry-level sales such as those done by Auctions America would not be part of the plan going forward.
Myers said Thursday that the twice-a-year Auburn Auction would continue.
“I’ve been coming her for more than 30 years,” he said, adding that he’s not about to retire.
However, he said, “I hired a new president (for RM Sotheby’s, Ken Ahn, a Harvard graduate and former investment banker/advisor who had been senior vice president for strategy and corporate development at Sotheby’s).
Having someone else as RM Sotheby’s president, Myers said, “means that I can work only 18 hours a day instead of 24.”
He did say that like Santa Monica, the Auburn Auctions would be organized by RM Sotheby’s, and added that a final decision has not been made whether to continue to do any future sales under the Auctions America banner.
Regardless, “we want to upgrade the quality of the cars” on offer in Auburn, he added.
I spent part of Thursday wandering among the cars on the Auburn Auction Park docket. Above are some I’d want were I a collector buying rather than a journalist reporting.
Photos by Larry Edsall