Seller satisfied with Minnesota vintage-boat auction

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The auction of the F. Todd Warner classic boat collection, which was held Oct. 15-16, netted $3.6 million for Warner and Mahogany Bay, his Mounds, Minn., wood boat restoration, sales and storage firm, Warner told Soundings Trade Only.

Winning bids totaled about $4 million on 127 boats, plus dozens of old engines and parts lots. Ten percent of the gross went to auctioneer Mecum Auctions, of Marengo, Ill. Warner said he was pleased with the results of the "no reserve" auction - one in which the auctioneer sets no minimum bid.

"I would say another 10 percent would have been more in line [with the collection's value]," Warner said. "But a lot of the boats went for a reasonable price. In this world, in this economy, it was the best it could be."

The top-grossing boat was Gerry Lo, a 1929 Dingle 30-foot, triple-cockpit runabout, which fetched $315,000, followed by Sugar Lady, a 1932 Chris-Craft 27-foot, custom triple-cockpit runabout, which sold for $305,000. The top 10 yachts brought in $1,756,111. The figures do not include the auctioneer's 10 percent cut.

Warner, who has restored more than 1,000 boats in 37 years, said the purpose of the auction - the largest sell-off of wood boats in recent times - was threefold: to recapitalize his business, set a baseline for classic boat values and introduce a new business model for wood-boat restoration and sales. He said he hopes that auctions, a marketplace for classic cars for 40 years, will be more widely used to sell classic boats and set their values.

"This is a paradigm shift," he said. "If you can't sell your boat in some stable marketplace that you can depend on, then you don't have that security to buy it."

He believes auctions can stimulate the market for wood boats.

— Jim Flannery

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