• Oct 16, 2008
Jay Leno is a big player on the antique car auction circuit, and his loaded airport hanger in Burbank is proof that the Tonight Show host has purchased his fair share of rare rides. One such vehicle was a 1931 Model J Duesenberg that he aquired from Manhattan's Windsor Garage back in 2005. The car was owned by the now deceased Macy's heir John Strauss, and his estate is suing Leno because they contend the garage sold it to him illegally. The garage states that Mr. Strauss, who suffered from dementia, owed over $29,000 in parking fees, giving them the right to sell the Duesenberg and a 1930 Rolls Royce that was purchased by another auctioneer. The Srauss estate says the garage was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for parking over the years, and $29,000 was drop in the bucket.
We don't know all the legal issues (like title transfer of the Deuse) surrounding the suit between the Strauss estate and Jay Leno, but it seems as though the Windsor Garage would be a better target for the lawsuit. They did, after all, sell the vehicle that they were paid to care for. Then again, we have no idea what the laws are in Manhattan concerning garages that aren't paid and the delinquent cars that sit on their property, either. Thanks for the tip, Nick!

[Source: MSNBC]


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  • 33 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Here's another article about the Duesenberg purchase by Leno with a photo of the car. The lawsuit is reportedly for $1.3 million but only an open Duesenberg in restored condition is worth this much. Look at the photo, it isn't even close. Great story about how such a prestigious car ended up in such a sad state. http://www.sportscarmarket.com/articles/archives/880
      • 6 Years Ago
      Jay's cool, and not a liberal. I was sitting @ a stop light in LA driving and older jag. he pulled up and starting chatting about my old jag while we were waiting for the light. One of the nicest people in the world of entertainment. He took the effort to score on that automobile, and I am sure paid for it. back off Jay...
      • 6 Years Ago
      While Jay is the wrong person to go after, naming him in the suit doesn't cost anything extra and they'll let the judge decide.

      But, if you're claiming that $29,000 in parking fees is a drop in the bucket, why didn't you pay it? Thank goodness for mechanic's liens...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I once found a 1939 Mercury convertible in a barn in kalamazoo Michigan. All it needed was a new top, tires, battery. It had 1,700 actual miles on it. Best car I ever owned.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I recall a radio interview with Leno (Car Crazy?) in which he was talking about this purchase. It's been a while, but I recall him saying that there were substantial parking fees owed on the car but still far less than it was worth. He reportedly approached the family and attempted to buy the car directly from them (and, I assume, pay off the parking fees in the process) but they refused and after a while the garage seized it and sold it.

      I don't know the situation personally, but I do wonder why the family didn't pay the fees and remove the cars before they got to this point. If they had been paying parking fees for a long time it isn't as if they weren't in some form of contact with the garage, right? I also have to assume that there is some process a shop or garage has to go through to execute a mechanics lein in which the owner is provided an opportunity to pay the fees or contest them. How else would title have passed to the garage so that they could sell the vehicles?

      This is a bad situation and I hope Leno is in the right. One does need to question the sanity of anyone who lets a Duesenberg rot away in a NYC garage in the first place so his version of the story is plausible.

      There are plenty of interesting "barn find" stories out there. I was personally involved in the sale of a 300SL Gullwing that had been left to rot in a warehouse for 30 years. We had to get the rat droppings out of the car before it could be moved. It turned out to be a factory-built rally car with unique options and sold for $350k needing a full restoration. The owner had dozens of other cars in the same sad state and he won't sell any of them.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it's kinda sad that they're doing something about this now. It seems like the family knew the car was there and how could they not think it was worth a lot of money to someone? It seems like they realized that they did something stupid in neglecting the car and now they want money for it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thats the thing, the family may not have known the car was there. When you have dozens of accounts its easy to stay on top of, when you have hundreds it can be difficult especially for someone in old age. This could easily be an oversight. Leno is named because he may have to return the cars, the garage may have to return the money to Leno and the family may have to pay $29,000. But I seriously doubt the garage is going to have the types of lawyers neccessary to go against a Macy's heir.

        Cliff
        Co-Founder NinjaTickets.com --Comparison Shop Event Tickets
      • 6 Years Ago
      This situation with Jay Leno is absolute crap as the family has left that car to rot in the NYC parkade for over 60 frickin' years. The father died and John Strauss inherited it and took it to a couple of car shows/events. Something happened where either he was being snobby or worse yet others pushed him away from the hobby and chose to park the car and ignore it.

      If you've seen the pictures of the car it was in terrible condition. Jay said that it couldn't even be sympathetically restored as it was too far gone. The interior would of been in great shape if it wasn't for a dozen plus tires stored inside and ruining it completely!! This coach work was made by F.R. Woods and coincidently the body is made out of wood. The only Deusenberg of it's kind!!

      The abuse of 60 plus years pretty much killed the car and it's someone like Leno who just wants to bring back this car for others to appreciate- like he did with the Model X Deusy that there are only 5 left in existance- If you ever hear him talk about his collection he always says that we don't really own these cars. We just care for them until the next owner comes.

      The Strauss family should be ashamed. The car was purchased in late 05 and now almost 4 years later they want this "cherished" family heirloom back? They can't even pay the garage fees and religated this classic to sit and decay for all these years with tires inside and NOW it's a law suit to get back? They are just like little kids that only want to play with their toys when others are interested in them.

      Jay Leno legally paid 180,000 for the car and will easily spend triple to get Randy Ema's expertice to make it a concours quality resoration. There's a reason why Leno acquires so many classic and valuable cars. People respect him and know that he's commited in sharing these amazing and timeless cars with the next generation. He's scared that as time goes by; repairing these cars will be a lost art as the older folks are dying and no one else is taking their place.

      I can't wait to hear the judge tell the family to piss off. They are suing for 1.7 million plus the car back. The car will only be worth that once Jay's had it restored.
      barbara
      • 6 Years Ago
      This whole thing stinks. Why would a business let a customer get in the hole for $29,000.00??? There should have been a legal process followed that would have given the garage the right to sell the car after the proper notifications had been sent. Leno sounds like the innocent party in all this.......
      • 6 Years Ago
      If they were only owed $29,000 why did they sell two vehicles?

      Either one of those would have brought money than that, even "wholesale" to an auctioneer.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sorry you're right, I should have said "Jay Leno didn't lead the Tonight Show into insolvency and 60 billion or so in losses, stock price dropping $83 bucks in a decade, and needing a government bailout to avoid the otherwise inevitable bankruptcy, which is really the same thing as bankruptcy (difference being the govt. pays your bills for you rather than just tell the creditors to sit and spin) but is somehow TOTALLY NOT THE SAME THING.


      I stand corrected.

      www.thetruthaboutcars.com

      Read it and be depressed.
      • 6 Years Ago

      Some of you guys who have a problem with Jay, should just quit your bitching! The guy is an entertainer, and a BIG auto enthusiast!! His show is worth millions upon millions in ad dollars to NBC and he doesn't even use his Tonight Show salary for his hobby (the stand-up acts pay for his car hobby). He's a down to earth dude, who will sit and chat cars with any average joe at any car show he attends! He's one of my automotive idols and would love to one day meet him! So he makes millions and has alot of cars. If I had the money he had, as a "car nut" that I am, I would do the EXACT SAME THING, but my collection would include a few hyper-exotics like the Koenigsegg and Pagani among MANY other things! Leave Jay alone. He's one of the good guys!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, seriously.

        Jay Leno is my hero. I would love to meet him some day.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Now I only know about Connecticut motor vehicle laws, but to the best of my knowledge, the garage was able to sell it. All that they needed to do was to auction the vehicle as abandoned. If they had the car in their possession and were not paid their $29k for storing it, then technically it was abandoned on their property and they become the legal owner. It's the same as if you owned a storage company and someone left a big screen TV with you to store. If they were supposed to pay you $50/week to store it and they didn't and they never collected the TV back, then you become the owner. At least that's how I see it.
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