The Sad Story That Won’t Go Away!

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Warner Auction

For over a year now we have been getting peppered with reports of the train wreck of the Mecum Auction. Every dirty detail. We have heard both sides of the story, and yes there are two sides to every story for the record. We swore we would not get dragged into the muck of this story. When we read the court papers, we stayed out of it, when the rumors were flying we stayed out of it, and last month when Classic Boating magazine did a story we stayed out of it. It’s old stale bitter news. And today The Star Tribune  in Minnesota paper has chosen to report on it. We will not link it. We once again, we are staying out of it. But have been forced to mention it so folks understand why we wont continue this story.

Why you ask? 3 years ago Texx and I made a choice to stay above this crap! Every passion/Hobby/Sport/Lifestyle has this crap going on. It sucks to be honest. Sleezey restorers, shady dealing and down right dishonesty are all part of every world. This passion has so many honest good players in it. Those are the companies we need to promote and use. We all know who they are.. You can look right here on Woody Boater and see many of them as approved sponsors…Talking about stories like this does nothing to promote the hobby in a fun way. We are about having fun! Period. The festival nature of the auction was fun. That’s why we reported on it. Sadly though now with everything we have experienced from the Warner – Mecum Auction and the fallout since, I will always have a different (uncomfortable) outlook towards the auction world, boats, cars or anything else being offered up for auction.” And that really sucks!

19 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    I commend the position that you are taking and maintaining. There is more than enought crap everywhere we look in this world, and it is nice to have your web site be a place where I can always depend on positive news and stories. Once again, you guys keep up the good work!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      I agree Jim. The Mikkelson Collection Auction by Rich Penn Auctions was a wonderful, down to earth experience.

      For many of us, the whole Mecum Warner Auction thing has had a negative impact on our small but vibrant hobby, and left a scar that will take years to heal.

      But as Matt says in his story today, as much as we try to put it behind us and move on, the fallout from the auction just never seems to go away.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    When you have people bidding in a “no-reserve” auction, at the prompting of the auction house, with no intention of completing the purchase, and with the auction house having no intention of making them honor the bid, it is dishonest. The auction was obviously not “no-reserve” and not all bidders were playing by the same rules.

    Mecum’s tactics are nothing new to the classic car world, but there is no reason for the classic boat world to accept them in our community. Part of preserving the lifestyle and the ability to keep it fun is to make sure both potential buyers and sellers know to steer clear of a Mecum auction and let the other auction houses know that we as a community will be vigilant and unforgiving if they try the same thing.

    Sometimes the best way to heal the wounds is to put them in the open and learn from them, not hide from it or try to ignore it. We don’t need to dwell on it, but it is good for you to at least acknowledge that an event you dedicated several articles to promoting and covering turned out to be sour.

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      I have to agree with m-fine. Until the Classic Boating article came out recently I was totally unaware of what went on here. And I know several people that attended that auction, including one who bought (and still has) a boat there.

      Had I been interested in buying an auction boat after this event, up until reading that article, I would have blindly attended another Mecum Auction (if they had scheduled one) and felt perfectly comfortable in doing so. And this was nearly two years AFTER that fiasco.

      As WB has stated, you don’t want to dwell on this type of sleezy activity, but there is a need to keep us uninformed potential buyers educated as to the pitfalls waiting to ‘sink’ our dreams.

    • S Wozniak
      S Wozniak says:

      Definitely in agreement with you. Having attended and bought a boat, my first antique, I will always wonder whether I was subject to manipulation. With that doubt, it’s a sure bet I won’t be attending another Mecum event. An informed community is a strong community. When all is said and done, I have a boat that brings me lots of enjoyment, and new found friends. No regrets, just a little wiser…

  3. Ben
    Ben says:

    This may be pithy, but there’s a liar lurking in all of us. Don’t be fooled by any of them, least of all the one in your own heart.

  4. Rick
    Rick says:

    I appreciate the heads up Matt. Now when I go to Algonac instead of saying “I didn’t go and buy a boat there because my wife would have divorced me”, I can now say “Well I took the higher road and didn’t want to get involved with anything that might be tainted.” This way I sound less whipped and more snooty at the same time. Regardless of what went on there these boats are an emotional buy, just stop bidding.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      It is not that simple. If an auction is advertised as no-reserve, buyers are more likely to show up and bid. They “know” everything will sell and they hope some things will sell at a bargain price. Had the Mecum auction been as advertised, one of the plaintiffs should have been able to get a nice hacker tripple for $50,000. He didn’t get the boat because the shill bidding created and artificial reserve price of $150,000. Since no legit buyer met the secret reserve, the boat didn’t sell. The real bidder wasted his time and lost out on a good deal.

      Having a reserve price is perfectly OK if you advertise that fact upfront. Mecum went out of their way to mislead potential bidders about the nature of the auction and then artificially raise bids above where they would otherwise have gone. Instead of going to the highest bidder for a price just over what the second highest bidder offered, the Mecum boats sold for higher prices, allegedly well above the second highest legit bid, or didnt sell at all. It wasn’t really an auction but more a scripted charade designed to take advantage of people making emotional purchases.

      Ok, truth is out there, enough of this, now back to Boat-on Whalers!

  5. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    I commend Matt for the explanation. He brushed me off back when I mentioned the artilce in Classic Boating etc.
    Now to hear the explanation, that this website is about fun in boating…I totally accept that. Agree with it.
    Who needs the back and forth bickering….caveat emptor…let’s GO BOATING! I am, TODAY!!! whoo wheeeee
    John in Va.

  6. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    I, too, commend Matt for his position.

    I think it should be mentioned, however, that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have taken the high road by refusing to comment. Both have incredible, just incredible, boat collections here in Minnesota. I know one of them, Lee Anderson, is not only a very successful businessman, but also an extremely generous one. He’s donated tens of millions of dollars here.

  7. Mike Unruh
    Mike Unruh says:

    Maybe the guys at WoodyBoater are clairvoyant? A quote from a story on 10/5/10:
    “And no this is not the start of Misery month.. Although…. we still have the Warner Auction…”

  8. Jim Wilson
    Jim Wilson says:

    Sheesh. A bunch of rich boaters hoping to buy great classic boats for bargain prices complain a pro outfit did a great job for the seller and lender. This simply shows me that many wood boaters are selfish snobs and babies. Lawsuit?!? Wimps!!!!!! Ugh.

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