Las Vegas has always been a special place for Barrett-Jackson. It’s one of my favorite events simply because of being in Vegas. It’s such a great town and really mirrors the excitement of a Barrett-Jackson auction. I love the 24/7 energy, and I love the world-class entertainment, dining, and shopping options.
Of course, Las Vegas is a city you have to take on its own terms. The stakes are high and nobody knows exactly what is going to happen until you pull the handle. Everybody is hoping for that big jackpot. Barrett-Jackson has had gratifying success in Las Vegas, but it didn’t necessarily come easy.
Take our first Las Vegas auction in 2008. We worked a long time to get to Vegas initially. Many auctions have come and gone in Las Vegas — none ever reaching the level of success of a Barrett-Jackson event. So there were a lot of expectations there and we put plenty of effort into making that happen.
And as fate would have it, as we rolled into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for the inaugural event, it happened to coincide, literally to the day, with the 2008 financial meltdown. So we had the anxiety of a new event in a new venue in a new location and on a new stage, and lo and behold, as we were setting up and getting ready for the auction, the financial crisis began. I remember walking by the big screens that are everywhere in Las Vegas, and everyone was fixated on how low the Dow was dropping.
But the dice rolled in our favor, and when the smoke cleared, to this day, it was one of the best Las Vegas Auctions we’ve ever had.
I’ll admit that my connection with the Las Vegas Auction is deeply personal. For me it’s like a homecoming. At that first auction in 2008 we sold Carroll Shelby’s first race car, a 1949 MG TC. I went to Shelby American with the vehicle before the auction and interviewed Carroll himself. My memories revolve around that car as much as the event due to the historic nature of the MG and Carroll being around to tell me the story. And just last year I celebrated my 25th anniversary with the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company on the Vegas stage.
Some personal moments are bittersweet. In 2011 I sold my custom 1964 Ford Fairlane there for the Armed Forces Foundation, and I sold my Shelby GT500 Super Snake to benefit the local first responders following the terrible mass shooting in 2017. We were the first public event after that shooting that took place at Mandalay Bay. I think we played an important role in helping the healing process begin within the community. It really solidified our place as being part of the community, not just a business that comes in there and takes place and leaves.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Las Vegas without celebrities, and we’ve hosted so many great ones over the years. We’ve had Siegfried & Roy on the stage. One of the most touching and validating sales of a collection that I’ve experienced was when we sold Danny Gans’ collection for his family after he passed away. Danny Gans was voted Entertainer of the Year and headlined at The Mirage on The Strip for many years. Selling his incredible collection with his family in attendance was a milestone moment.
That celebrity spotlight will of course be shining at this year’s auction. Paul Stanley of KISS is selling his factory-customized VIN 001 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, along with an autographed Ibanez Paul Stanley Signature guitar. Comedian Gabriel Iglesias will have a couple muscle cars from his collection cross the auction block as well.
Last year our auction moved to the new Las Vegas Convention Center. We loved and enjoyed our stay at Mandalay Bay, but we’re now in a state-of-the-art space designed specifically for the events we’re putting forward. For those who haven’t made the trip to this amazing facility, it’s a truly world-class venue.
There is so much to see! The Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, also known as the Tesla Tunnel, is very cool. It’s the first operational loop by Elon Musk’s Boring Company, and it takes you 40 feet below the streets of Las Vegas in Tesla shuttles right from Resorts World Las Vegas, our host hotel, to the convention center doorstep.
And we’re starting to see some of that same cutting-edge technology appear on the auction block, with hybrid supercars and Electro-Mods beginning to come into their own with more people accepting the reality and inevitability of the EV world. We have one of the new GMC EV Hummers we’ll be selling with No Reserve at this auction. We look forward to seeing more and more EVs and plan on playing a major role with them on the auction block as we have with muscle cars and Resto-Mods, and no place better than under the bright lights of Las Vegas.