Most Expensive Motorcycle in History at Las Vegas Collector Motorcycle Auction in January

Lee Hartung’s 1913 Flying Merkel

The Lee Hartung auction saw Lee’s unmolested 1913 Flying Merkel sell for $201,250 at Auctions America’s Hartung Collection auction Nov. 3-5, 2011 in suburban Chicago, and I can tell you from making the trip that it was hardly the only desirable collector bike on the property that day.

A group of the world’s leading experts in collectible motorcycles and two members of the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Hall of Fame will be on hand to share their wisdom at an exclusive market seminar presented by Auctions America by RM its debut Las Vegas Premier Motorcycle event, Jan. 12–14, 2012.

This 1894 Roper Steam Motorcycle is expected to fetch half a million dollars at auction in January in Las Vegas – Photo by Todd Halterman

Hosted by well-known motorcycle guru and SPEED commentator Dave Despain, the one-hour seminar will be held in the main auction arena at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 9 a.m. PDT.

The panel discussion will focus on the passion that drives the motorcyclists, including the continuing popularity of motorcycles as collectibles. They’ll also talk about market trends and predictions for the 2012 auction season.

The session will conclude with a Q&A with members of the audience, so you’ll get a chance to speak with the pros.

“We’re thrilled to be welcoming Dave Despain and our special guest panelists to Vegas as we work to provide an unforgettable event experience for motorcycle enthusiasts,” said Donnie Gould of Auctions America by RM. “Despain and each of our four panelists are among the best in their fields. The seminar promises an interesting and lively discussion, while providing a wealth of information about the collector motorcycle hobby.”

The panel includes:

  • Dave Despain, a 40-year broadcaster; Despain has been called the best-known TV personality in the history of motorcycling and is a member of the AMA Hall of Fame;
  • Mark Hoyer, lifelong motorcycle enthusiast and editor-in-chief of Cycle World magazine;
  • Doug Mitchel, regular Motorcycle Classics contributor and noted motorcycle photographer and author; Mitchel published his first book in 1994 and has since created more than 30 titles;
  • Buzz Walneck, founder of Walneck’s Classic Cycle Trader and AMA Hall of Fame member; and
  • Joe Bortz, prominent classic car and vintage motorcycle collector; Bortz’s motorcycles have been featured in multiple magazines, including Motorcycle Classics.

“The collector motorcycle hobby continues to evolve,” said Despain. “Auctions America’s panel discussion will allow us to share personal anecdotes and stories about motorcycles that have touched or changed our lives. It’s  a wonderful opportunity for both serious and amateur enthusiasts to learn more about the current state and future outlook for the hobby.”

But the real star of Saturday’s auction program is the the sale of a historic 1894 Roper Steam Motorcycle.  The second of just two steam-powered motorcycles built by Sylvester Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts, the 117-year-old motorcycle is expected to establish a new world record for a motorcycle sold at auction.

If you want to make the scene, it’ll cost you some scratch just to stand around, gawk and dream.

You can attend the three-day auction by purchasing a full-event pass for $50 or a single-day pass for $20. Children under 12 years of age receive free admission when accompanied by an adult.

Collector car expert Donnie Gould, specializes in the sale of American classics, European sports cars, Detroit muscle, hot rods, customs, and collectible motorcycles.

Thinking about collecting motorcycles or just want to check out a calendar of events? Then visit, find them on Facebook at, or follow them on Twitter @auctionsamerica.


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.

You may also like...