Sunday, November 30, 2014


A non-sale; 'Captain America' is withdrawn from the World's Most Expensive Motorcycles
The auction world is abuzz over the recent 'sale' of the 'Captain America' chopper at the Profiles in History auction house last October, claimed at $1.62M, making it the most expensive motorcycle ever to sell at auction, and likely the most expensive motorcycle of all (regardless of rumors of the $1.1M sale of the ex-Rollie Free 'bathing suit' Vincent).
Another much-touted 'sale' which wasn't - Buddy Holly's Ariel Cyclone was NOT, contrary to their press releases, sold for $470k.  
Weeks later, it turns out there was no sale; the anonymous 'buyer' backed out after Peter Fonda, who had previously endorsed the machine, sent Tweets the day of the auction casting doubts on the bike's authenticity. The seller, Michael Eisenberg, went to great lengths to bolster the authenticity of 'Captain America', hiring a forensic investigator and even subjecting Dan Haggerty, who restored the bike, to 3 polygraph tests (which he passed). Of course, what was certified by Haggerty as genuine would be the frame, used in the 'B' (or stunt) 'Captain America' built by Larry Marcus and Ben Hardy, as documented in my book 'The Chopper; the Real Story'. The rest of Haggerty's restoration was a reproduction of the 'A' (or hero) bike, long ago stolen and dispersed.
Another non-auction sale; this Winchester was claimed in the press to have sold at auction for $580k, but it wasn't.
Another significant false sale report was Buddy Holly's Ariel Cyclone, widely reported as sold for  $470k, but since 're-designated' as a no-sale. Such behavior from auction houses flabberghasts me - what on earth do they think they're up to?   The upshot of all this: 'Captain America' is NOT #1; it's off my list of the 'World's Most Expensive Motorcycles'. Activity like this Profiles in History sale, and earlier this year, the sham 'sale' of a 1910 Winchester at Worldwide Auctioneers, cast doubt on the reliability of auction houses and their press releases, or at least, releases from THESE auction houses.
The 1929 Brough Superior SS100, sold today by Bonhams for $494,580
By contrast, Bonhams auctions (a sponsor of is looking more like 'old reliable' every year.  Suspicious machines (or sellers) generate considerable anxiety with the Bonhams staff, as I experienced recently, when an important racing motorcycle (formerly owned by myself) was offered to Bonhams.  Doubt had been cast on it, which is akin to a virus in the auction world (as seen with 'Captain America') - ultimately it was withdrawn.
The JAP KTOR powerplant of the early SS100; a racing engine repurposed for the road; the fastest road bike in the world at the time
Today, Bonhams really did sell a gorgeous 1929 Brough Superior SS100 'Alpine Grand Sports' for £315,000 ($494,580), and my quote about this bike can be seen on the BBC website.  This Brough now sits on the #2 Most Expensive spot, just behind the 1915 Cyclone with a Harley frame, sold way back in 2008.  The rapidly increasing price of good pre-1930 SS100s means the #1 spot is within reach...until a better Cyclone is sold, anyway.  Which will happen next Spring; watch this space.

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michael eisenberg said...

With the recent sale at Bonham's of two other historically significant movie props/wardrobe items:

The Cowardly Lion Costume from The Wizard of Oz that sold for more than $ 3,000,000

And the piano from Ricks Cafe in Casablanca selling for equally as high a $ 3,000,000 number ..

The recent sale of these equally iconic movie props and wardrobe, and the events leading up to the successful bidders cancelation of his bid to purchase the Captain America motorcycle, due to the negative comments that were erroneously disseminated to the media and placed on social media coupled with the news of Dan Haggerty passing a series of polygraph exams confirming that this motorcycle was re-built off the film used crash frame.

The universe once again has spoken to me and said " No Pressure No Diamonds "..

So I intend to litigate and turn the negative into a positive.
I am perhaps destined to keep the bike and display it publicly in a world class museum..."

Dean E. Gilles said...

I would still pay to see a rebulit rep from Dan The Man Haggerty in a showcase!

the french owl said...

I just say shy away from resto jobs...

GuitarSlinger said...

Hah ! I was right all along ! It aint what its claimed to be ... and to boot the sale never actually happened ! Not to mention Fonda once again is 'waffling' on the ' Is It Is or Is It Aint ' question ! [ can anyone trust anything coming from PH these days ? ]

As to the whole ' polygraph Smoke & Mirrors trick ? In case Mr Eisenberg hasn't noticed polygraphs are inadmissible in a court of law what with an accuracy rate of less than 30% on the best of days

Ahh yes ... the Universe most definitely has spoken ... and for once it looked at the facts rather than the manufactured ' Myth ' before doing so .

As far as Mr Eisenberg's comments above . A serious case of ' Sour Grapes ' and oh by the way you've been found out perhaps ?

Fact is Mr E ... all that your so called ' evidence ' ever amounted to was the epitome of circular logic that went like this ;

" It is .. Because I say that it is ... Because I own it and want to sell it for a massively inflated price tag ... Therefore it is .. Because I say it is "

As far as litigation good sir ? Well good luck with that one . Cause brother you're in way over your head and about to come up against a brick wall even the likes of you cannot imagine .

Cause I ... and many with much more credibility than you and I combined ... Know for a fact .. that it Aint !

But at the very least Mr Eisenberg .... it'll very be entertaining to watch you try and put a positive spin on this one .... Very entertaining indeed


And to you Mr D'Orleans ... full credit and kudos to you for posting this ! Your credibility in my eyes just went up another ten notches ... not that it needed it mind you ... and when is the damn book gonna hit the shelves anyway good sir ?

the french owl said...

; - ) and the credibility of Paul has nothing to do with his employer/sponsor... ; - )


david osborne esq. said...


You seem to be full of facts, ever take the time to check them ?

With a quick check of current California evidence law, it allows polygraph results in civil matters.

and why hide with a moniker and not post your facts under your real name ? just saying.

Lewis said...

Hi Paul,

Interesting new development here. I had assumed that if at least two folks with million-plus budgets wanted it at auction that made it the sole surviving Easy Rider bike, regardless of provenance. Apparently not.

I notice you refer to the Winchester as a "sham" sale, but when I followed the link to your previous entry on the Winchester it's just reported as a sale. Care to clarify?



The Vintagent said...

Hi Lewis,

I spoke with the claimed purchaser of the Winchester, who is a friend of the consigner. The buyer admitted that the sale was conducted after the auction, and not through the auction house - therefore there's no way to verify there was ever a sale at all, and certainly not for a world record price.

I sought confirmation from the auction house, Worldwide Auctioneers, who never responded. I called this sale a 'sham' as it was reported in the press as an auction sale, but it wasn't, and therefore we have no way of verifying there was a sale at all.

Cortes said...

I do not intend to rain on Paul's parade, but as someone who has been involved with both antique cars and motorcycles for most of my life, I detest what the auction scene has done to the hobby. The objects of our desires are now nothing more than commodities sold to the highest bidder. Fraud abounds as restorations alter once original machines. If one finds a few bits of some famous machine then a complete vehicle can be constructed and sold as the real deal. New bodies are constructed for old cars. Since everyone knows that open bodied cars bring more money than sedans, the original bodies are discarded and new open bodies constructed. What was once original becomes ever more difficult to determine. I simply see it as sad and can only say this - do careful research before you open your wallet.

Lewis said...

Ah, thanks for the update. As is often the case, only the big headline makes it to press. (Hadn't heard about the Captain America sale falling through anywhere either.)

I'm glad the stuff I like is weird and reasonably priced.