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Parts of O'Quinn car collection to be sold at RM auctions in March

Tue, 02 Feb 2010 00:00:00 -0800

Batches of cars from the extensive collection of Texas attorney John O’Quinn--one of the most impressive collections of classic sheetmetal since William Harrah’s--will cross the auction block this spring at a pair of RM Auction events.

O’Quinn, a noted attorney who died in a car crash last October, assembled a collection of at least 800 cars, and it could number as many as 1,300.

Fifty-five cars from the collection will be sold at the RM auction on March 13 at Amelia Island, Fla. Another 150 O’Quinn cars will cross the block March 26-28 at the RM event in Fort Lauderdale, the auction house said. Proceeds will go to the O’Quinn estate. Many of the cars will be sold at no reserve, RM president Ian Kelleher said.

The Amelia Island auction lineup will include a 1932 Duesenberg J Murphy convertible coupe, and a Pontiac Bonneville convertible that once belonged to country star Hank Williams Jr., dubbed the “Silver Dollar Car.” The Amelia Island cars are worth an estimated $8 million to $12 million.

Some of O’Quinn’s collection may also go on the block at the RM auction at Monterey, Calif., later this summer.

Despite choppy economic conditions, Kelleher expects the O’Quinn cars to perform well on the market.

“They’ve been really perfectly taken care off,” he said. “They’re in excellent condition.”

O’Quinn’s collection is the most wide-ranging and significant since the trove assembled by casino mogul William Harrah. Among the cars in O’Quinn’s collection are the 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost used in the movie Titanic, a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante and a number of Duesenbergs.

Securing the rights to auction off some of O’Quinn’s collection is a major coup for RM.

“Obviously the large auction houses were all drooling at the mouth,” said Joe Bortz, a Highland Park, Ill., collector who had visited O’Quinn’s massive Texas facility where he housed his cars.

O’Quinn was a relative newcomer to car collecting, using his landmark victories in the courtroom to fund his passion for automobiles. His wins included a billion-dollar verdict against the producer of the diet drug fen-phen, a $17.3-billion verdict against tobacco companies, and a $100-million ruling against Dow Corning, maker of silicone breast implants.

By Greg Migliore