|By Starr Miller
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In the words of auctioneer David Helmer, the paper and books “blew the roof off” of a recent Braun and Helmer Auction of motorcycle related items. The paper pulled in more than $100,000 collectively. The Ann Arbor based auction was held to liquidate the estate of Larry Klein – and the items covered the gamut.
“Larry Klein was a Moto Guzzi dealer, a collector…and ultimately, also a hoarder,” Helmer said. “Larry was one of two Moto Guzzi dealers in the United States.”
Klein passed away on March 9, 2015 at the age of 71. Larry enjoyed a lifelong passion for motorcycles — particularly of the Italian variety, literature of every variety, and civil rights advocacy. He was widely respected as a Moto Guzzi expert, sharing his encyclopedic knowledge openly with all who cared to listen – and as those who know him best noted, even those who didn’t.
In 1972, Larry opened GT Motors in Lansing, Mich., with Michael Gorman and Arlen Thrasher. In 1977, Michael and Arlen left the business, leaving Larry to run GT Motors as a solo venture, providing motorcycle repair and parts service. In recent years, Larry shifted his focus from motorcycle repair to motorcycle literature, and became widely known at meets around the country. He collaborated with several celebrated authors to publish new titles, and continued to provide customers, new and old, with his wealth of motorcycle and literary knowledge.
The auction featured a lifetime collection of everything motorcycle related. Motorcycles included the much sought after Moto Guzzi, as well as Norton, BSA, Triumph, Ducati, Honda and BMW. Due to the nature of Klein’s collection, the auction also included motorcycle parts, service manuals, literature, advertising, gear and apparel, and much more.
The auction was held over several days, and according to Helmer, day one turned its attention to personal property items.
“These things were scattered in multiple locations — storage lockers, 40-foot shipping crates, in the basement and attic of the home, garage, and an outdoor cage. Items were literally stacked to the ceilings.”
Auction items were pulled out of areas that had no electricity, evident water damage, trees growing around and through motorcycles, obvious past presence of raccoons and other small animals – but the overall inventory of this auction was one of the best of its kind.
Approximately 850 registered bidders from more than 15 states and four foreign coutnries attended the auction. Helmer said bidders for this sale came from New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the U.K.
All items at this auction had a 10 pecent buyer’s premium. This auction was also recognized as the most viewed auction in the country according to GotoAuction.com, and it won an advertising award at the 2017 Auction of the Year in the State of Michigan at the Michigan Auctioneers Association Convention.
Auction highlights included a very rare original new old stock (NOS) Ducati GT 860 2 tone gas tank. Featuring vibrant colors of orange, black, and white, this item saw a final hammer price of $2,700.
A 1952 TWN German Triumph 250 Motorcycle with a Steib sidecar was one of the top lots at the auction. It had 44,852 miles saw a final bid of $8,500 at the auction.
Also crossing the block and in decent condition was a 1969 Velocette Venom complete motorcycle with original muffler with 4,803 miles which went for a high bid of $7,000.
A completely rusted out 1963 Austin Healey 3000 MK II Convertible with 43,080 miles (without a title) sold for $11,000.
A 1974 Moto Guzzi 850 LAPD with 8,859 miles realized $4,500.
Braun and Helmer Auction Service is a full service auction company since 1971. They conduct all types of auctions and specialize in estate and real estate. All of the auctioneers at Braun and Helmer are life members of the Michigan Auctioneers Association, and members of the National Auctioneers Association. They can be reached at http://braunandhelmer.com/.