Forty years ago, when I lived in a gritty section of New York City near Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, I was happy when the cockroaches didn’t dance on my toothbrush at night. My space was so small that the refrigerator doubled as the headboard of my bed. I couldn’t have imagined that one day, just a few blocks from my tiny studio apartment at 24 Thompson Street, I’d be looking at cars worth millions of dollars being sold at auction. The Keno Brothers, Leslie and Leigh, are best known for their expertise in evaluating furniture and antiques on the “Antiques Roadshow” PBS television series. They also have a love for fine automobiles, and they recently turned their passion into a business: Keno Brothers Fine Automobile Auctions. Their inaugural event, “Rolling Sculpture,” was held on November 19, 2015, at a transformed space at Skylight Clarkson Square in Soho. For a first-time outing, it was impressive. They selected just 40 automobiles and displayed each one on a raised podium in three white-walled rooms. It was reminiscent of a sculpture gallery. They claimed that what would set them apart from their competitors — and it is a crowded field indeed at the high end — would be their transparency and commitment to provide accurate historical information about their consignments, as well as thorough pre-purchase inspections for prospective buyers. On auction afternoon, the room was filled — the Kenos claim there were more than 1,500 people in attendance. SCMer Andy Reid did a fine job of providing the introductions, and British auctioneer Simon Hope persevered with cheer through an evening where the sell-through rate was 50% — a difficult task for any wielder of a gavel. When the dust settled, just over $8m in cars had been sold, and only one for more than a million dollars: a 1967 Bizzarrini Strada 5300. Two other cars that nearly made the seven-figure club were a 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400 S at $974,400 and a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 at $950,000. Best buy of the evening was a pale yellow 1968 Toyota 2000GT that sold for $683,200 all-in. You’ll find a complete report in our next issue. Despite the well-done surroundings, few of the consignments were fresh to market, and fewer still were priced right. The most difficult part of holding any auction is getting good kit — buyers would trek to the frozen wastes of Siberia if someone there were auctioning a treasure trove of just-discovered vintage Ferraris at no reserve. From my perspective, the Keno Brothers have established a good foundation to build from. They are in it for the long haul, and have just signed a three-year contract to conduct an auction at the Elegance at Hershey each June. If having high-end automobile auctions were easy, everyone would do it. Ultimately, an auction company is judged by its market-priced consignments, sell-through rate and sales totals. We’ll see how things go at Hershey.

A museum is transformed

On the evening of December 5, 2015, the Petersen Automotive Museum was the belle of its own ball. After many years of first-rate cars languishing in a third-rate setting, the board of directors of the Petersen, with Peter Mullin as chairman, embarked on a $120m fundraising campaign to completely re-identify the building. The design and construction team included Kohn Pedersen Fox (architects), A. Zahner (steel exterior ribbons) and Scenic Route (interior design). The results, while controversial, are to my eyes 100% successful. The once-dowdy building at 6060 Wilshire Street on Los Angeles’ Museum Row has become a striking visual tribute to the elements of speed and style that the automobile embodies. My daughter Alexandra and I attended the gala. As you might expect, many of the luminaries of the collector car world were there, including good friends Peter and Merle Mullin, Bruce and Raylene Meyer, Barry and Karen Meguiar and many more. Alex and I started our stroll at the Mullin Grand Salon on the ground floor. The current exhibit, “Rolling Sculpture,” featured magnificent marques, including Delahaye, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce and Voison, with spectacular coachwork. They are spread around like so many brightly colored candy confections. The Bruce Meyer Gallery, on the third floor, was filled with silver cars in an exhibit called “Precious Metal.” It included three Best-of-Show winners from Pebble Beach: a 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti coupe, a 1937 Horch 853 Sport cabriolet and a 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Arlington Torpedo. To see so many cars, all rare, exquisitely restored and impeccably presented rocked me back on my automotive heels. The far-reaching and aspirational scope of the architecture and exhibits demonstrates that the Petersen’s board is firmly moving the museum into the 21st century and beyond.

Speedster spat

Jerry Seinfeld, legendary comedian, longtime SCMer and noted Porsche collector, defends his purchase of what we called “The Derelict Porsche,” beginning on p. 46. Our experts Miles Collier and Donald Osborne, in their evaluation of the sale in the November 2015 issue (p. 54), said the car was in poor shape and that the buyer overpaid. As the proud new owner of the car, Seinfeld got together with SCM Contributor Stephen Serio to take issue with their evaluation. They talk about why they believe Collier and Osborne got it wrong. Collier wrote a rebuttal of their rebuttal, which is on p. 52. There’s nothing like a vigorous difference of opinion to make the pages of a magazine smoke like a well-used 356 engine being pushed to redline. Enjoy the read. ♦

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