Three’s Company: Auctions America Joins Vegas Classic Bike Auction

The annual classic bike auction in Vegas gets another lift as Auctions America joins the crowd.

| May/June 2012

In 2011, international auction house Bonhams made waves when it decided to hold a classic bike auction in Las Vegas the same weekend as MidAmerica Auctions, which had been selling alone in Sin City for 19 years. 2012 brought a second wave as Auctions America by RM steamed in, expanding the party to three.

When Bonhams came to town in 2011, pundits worried their entry would weaken overall Las Vegas auction activity, diluting what some perceived as a fairly set crowd of auction regulars. They shouldn’t have worried, as the 2011 Las Vegas auction scene turned out to be the hottest ever; auction house Bonhams racked up sales of $2.5 million and MidAmerica a whopping $4.7 million-plus, a 9 percent increase over its 2010 performance of $4.3 million.

The same fears were voiced again this year, as Auctions America loaded its guns for what many thought had the makings of a showdown. Drawing on ample resources and aided by the considerable knowledge of classic bike expert Glenn Bator, Auctions America by RM purchased and consigned several large collections to ensure a healthy offering before taking up residence for three days at the Rio All-Suite, just off the strip.

A subsidiary of international auction powerhouse RM Auctions, Auctions America was founded just two years ago. Since then, the company has consistently challenged markets held by established U.S. auction houses, and its move into motorcycles has been both applauded and feared.

Auctions America’s Vegas entry was looked at with more than a few raised eyebrows. Many saw the move as a blatant attack on MidAmerica’s Vegas dominance, but Auctions America president Donnie Gould rejects those assertions. “We’re here to make the pie bigger. We’re here to make this the premier motorcycle event of the year,” Gould said as the weekend opened, adding, “We have the potential to see $12 million in sales this weekend; that’s enhancing the market.”

The results of the weekend support Gould’s position. While the specifics of the auctions themselves can be debated, there’s no arguing the simple fact that total weekend sales rose from an estimated $7.2 million in 2011 to $10.7 million in 2012. That’s not far off Gould’s $12 million prediction, and a big lift any way you look at it.

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