Gold-leaf 1931 Cadillac on “Barn Find Hunter” could be yours

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RM Sotheby's/Tom Hains

A long time ago in a land far, far away—February, in pre-COVID England—Tom Cotter and the Barn Find Hunter video team traveled across the Atlantic in search of automotive treasure. Although, technically, Bernie Chodosh is not one of the treasures we found in the U.K., we certainly consider him one—and if you’ve watched our Barn Find Hunter episodes from across the pond, you know why. So when we learned that he’s selling one of the amazing cars he revealed on the show, we considered it our solemn duty to spread the word.

Bernie is parting with the glamorous, gold-flake 1931 Cadillac V-8 convertible coupe that purportedly was once owned by flamboyant pianist Liberace. It did not sell during RM Sotheby’s online London sale October 26–31, but the car is still available through RM for £65,000 ($83,830).

“Here we go again!” Bernie says at the start of a short video announcing the sale. Although some background noise makes Bernie a little difficult to hear at times, he tells us that he spent three weeks prepping the Cadillac to sell. “(It’s) just a fabulous car—never to be repeated.”

The Cadillac was originally delivered with coachwork by the Hall Cadillac Company of Denver, Colorado. In the early 1970s, longtime enthusiast Jack Smith of Garden City, Kansas, was looking for “something different,” and he found it here … or made it so. Smith finished the entire exterior of the car in 23.75-karat gold leaf, contrasting white leather upholstery. The outside door handles are 24-karat gold plated, with the inside door handles—and windshield wiper arms—in 24-karat gold and the gearshift knob finished in platinum with 18 rare gems. The mascot and hubcaps are also inset with gems.

Later owners refinished the door handles in chrome and fitted a wooden gearshift knob, but much of the original finishes remain intact, although the mascot is now missing one of its rubies. The floor is covered in mink—yes, mink—and the headlights pivot with the steering wheel. Under the hood is a 5.7-liter V-8 mated to a three-speed automatic transmission.

1931 Cadillac V-8 Convertible Coupe interior steering wheel
RM Sotheby's/Tom Hains

Smith sold the gold Cadillac at the 1975 Auburn Fall Auction, and the car eventually made its way to Europe. Before Bernie bought it, it resided in a German museum that claimed it once belonged to Liberace. That has not been verified, but Bernie says it’s easy to connect the dots.

“You’d have to be a very flamboyant person to want to own something like this,” Bernie says in the original Barn Find Hunter video.

“That’s why you own it,” Tom says.

“Exactly. I fell in love with it,” Bernie admits. “I thought, ‘Where in the hell am I going to see another one?’”

Bernie is hoping someone else out there feels the same way.


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