In January 2020 there were eight separate collector car auctions in and around Scottsdale, Arizona. Nearly 4000 vehicles were on offer, and total sales amounted to $244.1M. Since then we’ve had a little thing called COVID-19 that threw a wrench into just about every part of our lives, including the large live auction extravaganzas for which Scottsdale is the poster child.
As we’ve torn away the pages of our 2020 calendars, we’ve been wondering more and more how Scottsdale 2021 would look or even if it will happen at all.
Well, now we can confirm: Barrett-Jackson’s 2021 Scottsdale sale has been postponed until March.
“While every indication showed that our bidders, consignors and sponsors were behind our efforts to hold our auction next month, we decided it would be prudent at this time to safeguard everyone’s health,” said CEO and chairman Craig Jackson in a release Thursday. “We determined that moving our event to March 2021 seemed like the right thing to do to avoid the coronavirus spike that is currently being predicted.”
The huge sale at WestWorld had been scheduled for January 16–23, and in late October the Scottsdale-based company held a warm-up of sorts, with a socially-distanced, limited-attendance sale. But in recent weeks, with COVID infections skyrocketing around the country, we’d been hearing rumors the show would be shortened to three days due to local restrictions. We’re told the city of Scottsdale indeed had to do with the decision to cancel. Yet looking at the run list on Barrett-Jackson’s website it seems a low number of consignments may have also been a contributing factor.
The postponement is particularly unfortunate given that 2021 marks Barrett-Jackson’s 50th anniversary. In normal times, its signature January auction would surely have been a blowout.
Barrett-Jackson of course is not the only company that holds big auctions in January. Mecum’s annual Kissimmee sale—the world’s largest single collector car auction—is scheduled to go ahead January 7–16 with masking requirements, social distancing, and temperature screening.
In Scottsdale, RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams have announced sales with at least some in-person component. As of this writing, those sales have not yet been pushed; an RM representative told us on Friday they were “continuing to move forward with an abundance of caution” and would be strictly limiting attendance in accordance with city and state guidelines. Gooding & Co. and Worldwide Auctioneers also have “Scottsdale” sales, although the former is actually taking place online, the latter in Auburn, Indiana.
This is a developing story. We will be posting updates as we hear more.
I also have attended all the Scottsdale auctions for the past 7 years. I know the anticipation about 50th anniversary what is expected to be even more crowded then past years. I think Craig Jackson is reluctant to change with the times. People’s Health is way more important then any car auction. My Girlfriend and I both contracted the virus right after attending Barrett-Jackson last year in Scottsdale. Neither one of us have ever been that sick in our life. And at our age it took us 6 weeks to recover. A much more subdued auction was a welcome sight for us. We actually looked forward to attending a less chaotic auction as Bidders like we have for the past several years. My guess is this auction will be postponed again. There doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to this pandemic! People need to take responsibility into their own hands. And when possible state and local governments need to control events like this. We still hope that this auction will happen. We both always look so forward to it it’s a huge part of our collector life!
All of us in the classic car industry are disheartened and feeling the financial effects of the C-19 challenges. I’m glad to see Craig Jackson taking the lead position on putting the importance of saving lives over making profits during this Pandemic. We’ve all seen those that wear a mask into a store or event, only to pull it down to their chins as they go about their business. There’s no feasible way that the other continuing auctions will convince many of us that they’re going to realistically practice social distancing guidelines and enforce throwing out bidders at “half mask”. It just won’t happen, because of placing dollars before sense. In fact, the mass of bidders that will be elbow to elbow with 1000’s of strangers for days on end in Kissimmee as well as the other auctions will end up prolonging the virus for the sales acting in what many feel is the only responsible manner. While less than a month away, let’s hope that the competing auctions will reconsider their priorities. Jason Phillips, autoappraise.com