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World-Famous Lee Roy Hartung Collection brings global collectors, spirited bidding to the Windy City
Top-seller: 1911 Flying Merkel Twin Belt Drive attracts spirited bidding, selling for $201,250 at Auctions America’s Lee Roy Hartung Collection sale. Photo: Darin Schnabel © 2011 courtesy Auctions America by RM.

AUBURN, IN.- Auctions America by RM concluded its first full auction season on a strong note this past weekend, achieving over $3.95 million in total sales with 100% of lots sold at its highly-anticipated Lee Roy Hartung Collection sale in Glenview, Illinois (Nov. 3 – 5).

A labor of love carefully amassed over the past 50 years by Chicago collector, the late Lee Roy Hartung, the diverse collection spanned a broad range of Americana, from historic automobiles and motorcycles to bicycles, vintage memorabilia and one of the world’s largest and most complete license plate collections.

Auctions America specialists spent an intense two months preparing the collection for sale, sorting into almost 1600 individual lots, all of which were sold at ‘no reserve’ before a packed house. Illustrating the incredible interest generated by the sale, registered bidders hailed from over nine countries around the world. On a national level, bidders represented 45 individual US states. Onsite bidders were joined by a record volume of collectors on the telephone and Internet, resulting in fierce competition and lively bidding across the three days.

“We were honored to have been entrusted with the sale of the famed Lee Roy Hartung Collection and are very pleased with the results,” says Donnie Gould, president Auctions America by RM.

“The sale was a terrific celebration of one man’s drive to collect and preserve American history. Collectors recognized the range of rare ownership opportunities the sale presented, as was reflected in the strong attendance and results. In addition to the automobiles, vintage motorcycles were a major component and focus of the collection. The prices realized for the examples on offer confirms the continued strength of the collectible motorcycle market.”

Top sale honors went to a magnificent series of timewarp motorcycles and automobiles, headlined by a rare and hotly-contested 1911 Flying Merkel Twin Belt Drive for an impressive $201,250 (pictured). A 1912 Harley-Davidson Single-Cylinder Belt Drive, believed to be among the best 1912 examples in the world, also drew lively bidding, selling for $115,000. The automobile offering also garnered significant attention, led by an exquisite, one-off 1950 Veritas BMW with coachwork by Spohn, for $195,500, and a thoroughbred 1950 Edwards R-26 Roadster, believed to be the 1950 inaugural Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winning example, for $143,750.

Additional notable sales included:

* Over 5,000 individual license plates, including state runs of Arizona and West Virginia license plates which realized $29,900 each;

* a magnificent assortment of timewarp and original bicycles, headlined by a Aero Cycle by Schwinn and an Elgin Antique Bicycle, which individually sold for $5,175 each; and,

* an original, double-sided illuminated garage sign for $34,500.

“From start to finish, Auctions America by RM did an incredible job with the preparation and presentation of the sale. For many, organizing such a large-scale event in such a short timeframe would be a daunting task. The Auctions America team took on the challenge with great enthusiasm, professionalism and efficiency,” said Marjorie Cox, lifelong friend of Lee Roy Hartung following the auction.

“Their expertise in cataloging and marketing the collection to a global audience, combined with their first-class customer service made for a smooth and enjoyable experience that exceeded all expectations. It was a great experience working with the Auctions America team – I cannot recommend them highly enough to others looking to sell a private or estate collection at auction,” added Cox.

The Lee Roy Hartung Collection, Auctions America’s first stand alone single-vendor sale, caps off a tremendous year of growth for the Indiana-headquartered auction house. Following in the footsteps of its parent company, RM Auctions, Auctions America is fast becoming an auction house of choice for private and estate collection sales.

“We’ve had the privilege of offering a number of private collections as featured highlights at our events throughout the year, however the Hartung sale provided us with a great opportunity to showcase our team’s strength and expertise in hosting dedicated single-vendor sales and collection dispersal,” added Gould. “We are flattered by the feedback received from those in attendance at the sale and look forward to further building our private collections and estate division in the New Year.”

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