Jeff and Paulette Carpoff loved buying cars. Great cars. The word “car” is even part of their last name. By the end of the week, however, they won’t own a single vehicle. The U.S. Marshals Service is auctioning 149 collectible vehicles seized from the alleged ringleaders of what authorities say was an $800 million investment scheme run through a defunct mobile solar generator company, DC Solar.
Alleged victims included Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Progressive Corp., and East West Bancorp Inc.
The auction, facilitated by Apple Auctioneering Company, will be held October 26 in Woodland, California. Prospective buyers can preview the cars October 24–25. Online bidding has already begun.
The run sheet is an astonishing list of cool cars, trucks, hot rods, boats, and an RV. In a stroke of beautiful irony, even a police car will cross the block. Apple estimates the collection is valued at more than $6 million.
“There have been some pretty amazing government-seizure auctions in Europe, including the one in Switzerland last month,” says Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton, referring to Bonhams’ September 29 sale of cars confiscated from the embattled vice president of Equatorial Guinea. “But I can’t think of an American government auction that had so many sweet cars.”
Perhaps the best-known car in the auction is a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am “Bandit” once owned by Burt Reynolds. The black custom coupe, VIN #2U87L8N183594, is powered by a Butler Performance 8.2-liter engine that generates more than over 600 hp. It sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction for $275,000 in 2017, presumably to the Carpoffs. The Firebird, Lot #235 in the Apple auction, has already received 68 bids and is up to $65,025 at this writing.
“It looks like these folks may have spent some coin at Barrett-Jackson over the last few years,” Newton says. “A lot of these cars—too many to list—popped up at past Las Vegas or Scottsdale auctions over the course of 2016–18, which seems like too many to be coincidence.”
In addition to Burt Reynolds’ Trans Am, the auction includes these notable cars:
A 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (Lot #197), which sold for $1 million at Barrett-Jackson’s 2017 Las Vegas event, with proceeds going to charity.
A 1930 Cord L-29 Brougham (Lot #158), which sold for $300K, also sold for charity, at B-J Scottsdale in 2017.
According toBloomberg, the Carpoffs have not been charged with any wrongdoing. Their attorney, Malcolm Segal, wrote in an email: “We were pleased to cooperate with the United States Attorney by agreeing to make these valuable personal assets available for sale. We were able to do so without having to engage in a protracted legal dispute over the assets and wasting the funds and time on litigation.”