When my father, Publisher Keith Martin, mentioned he was traveling to London on a last-minute trip, I didn’t think he was going to take my joke of me tagging along seriously.
However, I soon found myself following my Dad onto an airliner. We were scheduled to attend a special 25th anniversary dinner with Bonhams at their London headquarters.
Thanks to a direct flight from Seattle, we arrived at Heathrow just in time for tea. Our hotel for the evening was The Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall. The Aston Martin DB Mk 3 drophead coupe parked in the lobby was a nice touch.
We headed to Bonhams to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Chairman Robert Brooks greeted us with a smile at the entrance and asked about our travels. Then he mentioned a little secret about the dinner: There was to be a grand reveal, and he wanted SCM’s newsletter to publish it first. When he asked if it were possible, my father responded that his team could make anything happen.
After aperitifs had been served, there was lively conversation in the dining room. Suddenly, the lights turned off. Brooks said he was excited to share the reason behind the dinner. On our left, a wall of blinds opened up as Brooks spoke: “We are pleased to announce that for the first time since 1990, a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, S/N 3851 GT will be crossing the block. At no reserve.” The blinds fully lifted and in a room below, a red Ferrari 250 GTO basked in a single spotlight. The room went quiet. Whispers of $45m, $50m, $60m and more could be heard.
My father snapped a picture and slipped from the room to email the SCM team back in Portland, Oregon. Upon hearing the news, the team quickly put together an email “blast” and re-worked the email newsletter with the new headliner. Once my father had rejoined the group, Brooks asked if he needed anything for the exclusive press release. “It has already been sent as “breaking news” to our newsletter subscribers and Facebook followers.”
I knew my father had a great team. This was the first time I’d seen the behind-the-scenes workings of a breaking news item. Now I understand how SCM “scoops the world” so often.