More than two dozen classic cars owned by embattled nursing home owner Bob Dean, a collection that includes a 1930’s coupe owned by a prominent member of the French Resistance and several vintage Corvettes, will be auctioned later this month after the vehicles were seized as collateral for an unpaid $10 million loan.
According to court records, Baton Rouge-based Investar loaned the money to Dean in August, before he became embroiled in controversy for sending nearly 1,000 residents from his elder care homes in Louisiana to a warehouse following Hurricane Ida. Dozens of Dean’s clients died after spending time in the sweltering and fetid conditions, though only a handful of the deaths have been directly linked to the storm.
Since then, Investar has filed foreclosure actions against Dean Classic Cars LLC in Missouri, New Hampshire, Mississippi and Georgia. Seizure orders were issued, according to court records.
Earlier this month, a judge in Upson County Superior Court in Thomaston, Georgia, found Dean in contempt of court for failing to appear at a hearing where he would have been required to put up further collateral or be jailed. The court has issued a warrant for Dean’s arrest, according to the Upson County Clerk of Court’s office.
One of Dean’s legal representatives said Dean wasn’t able to comment because he is suffering from dementia. Dean first said through lawyers in February that he wasn’t fit to sit for depositions or other legal appearances because of the condition. Investar and its lawyers declined to comment.
Over the last few months, Investar has managed to take possession of Dean’s antique cars from various locations around the country. Those cars will be auctioned on June 25 at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
A rare and extensive collection
Lawrence Green, CEO of Henderson Auctions, said Dean’s 28 cars will be part of an auction of up to 100 classic automobiles. Dean had been a vintage car collector and trader for decades. Green said his collection includes some gems.
“It is very rare to have an auction of bank-seized classic cars, period. But this is an especially large collection with some very rare and high value examples,” Green said.
The car with the most interesting backstory, Green reckons, is the Delahaye 135 Coupe des Alpes Chapron Roadster.
Built in 1937, the coupe’s first owner was a young French industrialist called Cyriel Depery, who joined the French Resistance after the Nazis took over the country.
Auction background on the car includes a photograph of Depery and fellow members of the Resistance driving the Delahaye through the streets of Depery’s home town, Annecy, in the Haute-Savoie region of France, on August 20, 1944, when it was liberated.
Green said he believes Dean acquired the car just last year.
Probably the most valuable of Dean’s cars up for auction, Green said, is a 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Gangloff Coupe. There were only just over 700 of the stylish touring cars built by Jean Bugatti between 1934 and 1940 and the one in auction has been restored to “Concours” level.
“There is probably only a handful of these models in this condition in the world,” said Green.
Restored antiques, flashy racecars
There is no reserve price for the Bugatti or any of the other seized vehicles. The price Dean paid is not being disclosed but the model has sold at auction at between about $800,000 and $1.5 million over the last five years, according to Classic.com, which tracks those prices.
Dean’s seized collection includes other immaculately restored antiques, like a 1938 Peugeot Darl’mat and a 1939 Packard Twelve Cabriolet. There are several racecars, like a 1967 Sunbeam Tiger, a 1964 Cheetah, and a 1996 Lola T96-50. There are also several Chevrolet Corvettes from the 1950s and 1960s.
The auction will include some curiosities, like vintage Ford work trucks and a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda that has only 87 original miles on it.
Antique work trucks
The Plymouth was bought straight off the factory floor by a man named Phil Reardon who had plans to turn it into a drag racer, Green said.
Reardon raced the car 30 times before he died early from natural causes. The car has since been owned by collectors and dealers who drove it only to move it in and out of showrooms and storage.
While the rarest and most sought after cars in the collection are expected to attract bids in seven figures, some of cars are in the $250,000-to-$600,000 range, Green said.
The 1958 Facel Vega FV-4 Typhoon, for example, was the first non-bespoke vehicle made by the same French firm that produced the Delahaye. Though it has more prosaic styling than the earlier custom-built cars, the auction background says the cars were fancied by Hollywood movie stars and socialites of its era.
“The Facel Vega has a Chrysler engine but the interior features were very luxurious for 1958,” Green said.
Other legal battles
The foreclosures come amid several legal battles Dean has faced in recent months.
The Louisiana Attorney General has opened a criminal investigation into last year’s incident. Dean is trying to have licenses for his seven nursing homes reinstated after the state of Louisiana revoked them.
Also, Dean is resisting efforts by the federal government to ban him from housing any residents who receive assistance from federal programs.
Meanwhile, dozens of nursing home residents also are suing Dean over conditions in his facilities.