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Old EJ Cole becomes auction king

An old age pensioner has stood the auction world on its head. E J Cole, 89, a collector of American motorcycles for more than 50 years, decided it was time to let go, put his 200-plus bikes to auction and let others spread the gospel of American motorcycle heritage.

Two of the bikes went straight to the top of the world’s most valuable bikes at auction in American dollar terms. And his collection sold so well that American bikes have now pushed out British bikes as the most valuable commodity in the Top 100 bikes at auction. Twenty-eight of them made $100,000-plus.

It all happened at the Mecum/MidAmerica EJ Cole auction (20-21 March 2015) at the South Point Casino and Exhibit Hall in America’s gambling capital of Las Vegas.

The two bikes that stormed the big bucks charts were an ex-Steve McQueen Cyclone board track racer V-twin and 1907 Harley-Davidson ‘strap tank’ single.

Including ten per cent commission they made $852,500 (£570,237) and $715,000 (£478,263) respectively.

The previous world record at auction was listed at $1.62m for the Easy Rider film ‘Captain America’ Harley-Davidson, until it was learned that this deal had not been fulfilled.

This is not the only big deal to have come into question at American auctions in recent months. It is now believed that $580,000 listed against a 1910 Winchester was never paid. And the highest bidder at the Bonhams 8 January 2015 Vegas sale failed to come up with the funds.

Initially Bonhams’ publicity listed $280,000 for a 1938 Brough Superior SS100. This was quickly withdrawn from statements when it was learned that the bidder did not have the wherewithal.

Today Cole is the king in the dollar auction ring and can satisfy himself that his preservation of the Yankee iron horse has struck a rich vein of gold. His auction also further confirmed that anything the late actor Steve McQueen happened to have gazed upon is sprinkled with gold dust.

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