Milhous Collection brings $38.3 million, fair organ sells for $1.2 million

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BOCA RATON, Fla – The renowned Milhous Collection of vintage automobiles, music machines and carousels sold for more than $38.3 million Feb. 24-25, 2012. Fellow collectors recognized the passion behind Bob and Paul Milhous’s 50-year collection and rewarded their dedication by purchasing every single lot in the sale.


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Bidders represented 18 countries from around the world, including as far away as China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. The sale, managed by RM Auctions in association with Sotheby’s, presented a range of exceptionally rare mechanical musical instruments, automobiles and collectibles before a packed house.

Strong prices were recorded across all categories in the sale with contests between multiple bidders and prices frequently exceeding their estimates.

The sale was highlighted by an unprecedented offering of mechanical musical instruments, considered among the rarest, largest and most mechanically complex and decoratively elaborate examples in existence. The sale was a benchmark for these types of pieces, the range of which had never previously been seen at auction. Leading this part of the sale was the exquisite 1903 Ruth style 38-B fair organ. One of only two examples known to exist, it generated a lively bidding contest before selling for an impressive $1,265,000.  Another one of the absolute highlights of the Collection and the sale was the ornate Gaudin 125-Key Dance Organ which sold for $1,150,000.

Milhous Collection grosses $38 million in salesThe centerpiece of the collection was a 46-foot custom carousel with 42 animals, two chariots and Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ. It sold for $1,207,500.

The centerpiece of the collection, the 46-foot custom built carousel also drew strong interest from collectors. A one-of-a-kind, fully-functioning work of art, it spurred a lively bidding war in the room and on the phones, realizing a final sales price of $1,207,500 to applause from the crowd.

Headlining the sale was an impressive series of automobiles, spanning the spectrum of the collector car market from high-horsepower Brass era cars to a superb roster of coachbuilt classics and historically-significant Indianapolis racing cars. Each representing ‘best of category’ examples, the automobile offering spurred spirited bidding in the room, on the telephones and over the Internet, with numerous lots exceeding pre-sale estimates. In addition to the sale-topping Oldsmobile, a flawless 1939 Lagonda V-12 Rapide Sports Roadster, delivered new to actor Robert Montgomery, more than doubled its pre-sale estimate selling for an astounding $990,000 to set a new world record for a road-going Lagonda. The Pebble Beach “Best of Show” winning 1934 Packard Super Eight Convertible Victoria by Dietrich, the first car acquired by the Milhous brothers, garnered a strong $308,000.

The highest price of the multi-day sale went to a Pebble Beach class winning 1912 Oldsmobile Limited Five-Passenger Touring, chassis number 64626. The only known surviving example from that year and featuring one-off coachwork, the Oldsmobile attracted fierce bidding, realizing a final sales price of $3,300,000 to set a new world record for an Oldsmobile sold at auction.

For more details on the selection of automobiles in the Milhous Collection, visit coverage at Old Cars Weekly.

“We’re thrilled with the results from the Milhous Collection sale,” says Rob Myers, chairman and founder of RM Auctions. “The incredible quality and presentation of the collection captured the attention of the global collector world, resulting in lively bidding and setting numerous records. Never before has such a wonderful series of automobiles, mechanical musical instruments and collectibles been offered to the public in one location. In terms of its diversity, international interest and results, it set a new benchmark for this type of private collection sale.”

The Milhous Collection’s impressive catalogue of 509 lots was rounded out by an eclectic assortment of other collectibles, ranging from ornate hall and tower clocks to such decorative art pieces as Tiffany lamps and various artworks, as well as a diverse series of petroliana, neon and porcelain signs, unique gasoline-powered tether cars and models, and a large range of firearms from the late 19th century.  The clocks in sale were led by the E. Howard Four-Dial Painted Cast Iron Eight-Day Post Clock which soared over the high estimate to sell for $106,375. A further highlight of the clocks in the sale was a Black, Starr & Frost Hall Clock which fetched an impressive $103,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $50,000 – $60,000.

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