Credit: Original article published by Barrett-Jackson.
Last year marked Barrett-Jackson’s highly anticipated return to Palm Beach after a two-year hiatus due to the world-wide social distancing requirements. While our return to Florida for a live, in-person auction was definitely a cause for celebration, this year marks another noteworthy occasion: It commemorates 20 years since the very first Palm Beach Auction.
Since our first year there in 2003 the Palm Beach Auction has been particularly meaningful to me. Back in the early 1990s my brother Brian and I had discussed expanding the auctions by adding an East Coast venue, and we were considering Florida or New York. Unbeknownst to me, Brian had scouted the Palm Beach area looking for a place to hold the East Coast auction we had envisioned. While going through Brian’s things after he passed away in 1995, I found several aerial photos of the South Florida Fairgrounds Brian had taken on a helicopter tour, the very venue I chose for the Palm Beach Auction in 2003 and where it remains to this day.
Choosing Florida was easy ‒ it is such a beautiful place to spend time. The entire state has a relaxed vacation atmosphere with its palm trees, crystal-clear waters and a great climate – all the elements you look for in a tropical oasis. Our event in Palm Beach mimics this easy-going vibe – the pace of the auction leaves more time for attendees to get to know each other and for friendships to form.
The casual atmosphere nevertheless still lends itself to some serious bidding on the auction block, with the Palm Beach Auction seeing many historic sales over the years. One of my favorites was the Howard Hughes’ 1953 Buick Roadmaster that belonged to my family and was incredibly special to my mother Nellie. My brother found the car in Hollywood, California, where it had been stored on blocks for 20 years. Said to be the last car Howard Hughes ever drove, it crossed the block at the 2005 Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction for $1,650,000.
The following year the 1947 Bentley Mark VI Coachworks By Franay, also known as the Franay Bentley, sold for $1,760,000. The Franay Bentley is universally recognized as the most successful and expensive postwar Bentley/Rolls-Royce automobile of all time, with concours results and auction records to prove it. “Barrett-Jackson LIVE” was still on the SPEED Channel when the Franay sold; the bidding became so compelling that night that the television cameras rolled live for 49 exciting minutes without a commercial break as a succession of diverse vehicles crossed the block.
Monumental sales have continued through the years; most recently, a 2020 Ford GT Carbon Series sold at the 2022 Palm Beach Auction for a record-breaking $1,540,000.
The Florida event is also known to attract celebrities. One of my favorite memories was when actor William Shatner sold some of his cars at our Palm Beach Auction in 2016 after many of his 2.5 million Twitter followers recommended Barrett-Jackson.
A good friend of the auction, John Staluppi, has made a lasting impression on our Florida event by selling his remarkable Cars of Dreams Collection not once, but twice. The first time we sold it in 2018, the collection was so large we expanded the Palm Beach Auction to four days.
Twenty years later, Palm Beach feels like a second home. My wife Carolyn and I really enjoy Florida, the community atmosphere and the beauty the state has to offer. Every time the Palm Beach Auction rolls around it reminds me of my brother Brian and my mom. I feel a sense of pride knowing I was able to make this expansion happen and fulfill one of Brian’s wishes.
I look forward to another successful Palm Beach Auction, along with welcoming all our sponsors, friends of the auction and another amazing selection of collector vehicles.
Cheers to 20 years in Florida!
— Craig Jackson
An avid car collector, award-winning restorer and racing enthusiast. With Craig at the helm, the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company is celebrating over 50 successful years in the collector car hobby.