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

  • Auctions America Las Vegas
    Auctions America’s inaugural Vegas auction was still a day away when this photo was taken. More than 500 classic bikes filled the hall by auction time.
  • Panel
    Industry luminaries lent insight at Auction America’s Saturday seminar.
  • Benelli 750
    This 1976 Benelli 750 sold for $8,960.
  • Triumph Trident
    This lovely 1975 Triumph Trident went for $7,840.
  • Husqvarna 400 Cross
    Ex-McQueen 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross was a no-sale at $137,000.
  • Honda CX500
    This 1982 Honda CX500 Turbo took $4,400.
  • Honda CBX
    This 1982 Honda CBX went for $5,040.
  • HD XR750
    Auction America’s Donnie Gould said this 1975 H-D XR750 was the bike he wanted most: It sold for $30,800.
  • 1910 Pierce
    Original 1910 Pierce was a no-sale at $120,000.
  • Ducati 900SS
    The 1977 Ducati 900SS was very nice and sold for $26,000.
  • Norton Production Racer
    A 1971 Norton production racer with an original, never installed taillight assembly remained unsold at $17,000
  • Indian Big Chief
    An original 1952 Indian Big Chief drew $36,270.
  • Honda CB92
    This 1,400-mile 1961 Honda CB92 went for $9,360.
  • Ace 4 Cylinder
    A claimed new-old-stock 1924 Ace 4-cylinder sold for a stunning $35,000!
  • Ducati 750GT
    An original 1973 Ducati 750GT with 33,556 miles looked tired, but sold for $11,115.
  • Triumph TR5 Trophy
    An original 1953 Triumph TR5 Trophy looked perfect and sold for $16,965.

  • Auctions America Las Vegas
  • Panel
  • Benelli 750
  • Triumph Trident
  • Husqvarna 400 Cross
  • Honda CX500
  • Honda CBX
  • HD XR750
  • 1910 Pierce
  • Ducati 900SS
  • Norton Production Racer
  • Indian Big Chief
  • Honda CB92
  • Ace 4 Cylinder
  • Ducati 750GT
  • Triumph TR5 Trophy

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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