What Is A Man's Life Work Worth? Lee Roy Hartung Motorcycle Collection Racks Up $4 Million

Lee Roy Hartung was a classic American eccentric.

Hartung, a man who lived off and on for nearly forty years in a pole barn with no running water, loved beautiful and interesting things which other people no longer found interesting or useful.

It was this appreciation of those castoffs and items lost to time that led Lee Hartung to amass a collection of cars, motorcycles and assorted memorabilia which recently sold at auction for $4 million.

“Lee was a character,” said Dale Walksler, a friend and confidant of Hartung’s. “He loaded all this stuff on the back of his truck by himself and he always said he found it all within fifteen miles of his house. He never sold anything…”

And now, after a lifetime spent collecting beautiful machines, the collection has been dispersed to the winds of fortune, and what a collection it was; a collection that included a 1911 Flying Merkel Twin Belt Drive motorcycle which sold for $201,250.

1911 Flying Merkel Belt Drive
1911 Flying Merkel Belt Drive

The Chicago collector’s barn finds and garage reclamations ultimately went out in 1600 individual lots to bidders from nine countries and buyers from 45 individual US states over the course of three days.

“The sale was a terrific celebration of one man’s drive to collect and preserve American history,” said Donnie Gould, president Auctions America by RM, the company which ran the sale. “Vintage motorcycles were a major component and focus of the collection. The prices realized for the examples on offer confirms the continued strength of the collectible motorcycle market.”

Among the incredible finds Hartung made was a 1912 Harley-Davidson Single-Cylinder Belt Drive, believed to be among the best 1912 examples in the world, which sold for $115,000.

Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle

As for insurance for your collectible motorcycle? You should be able to get Agreed Value coverage on a classic 1959 BSA Gold Star Catalina valued at $15,000 for somewhere around $25 a month, and that gives you the whole shooting match of coverage.

You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.

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