Disgraced yogi Bikram Choudhury’s collection of vintage luxury cars will go unsold for at least several more months thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus crisis forced auction house RM Sotheby’s to scrap the live Florida auction where 22 of Choudhury’s vintage vehicles were to be sold starting Friday. The auction is still being held online, but the bankrupt hot-yoga guru’s cars — estimated to be worth as much as $1.1 million — are not among the lots.
Robbin Itkin, the trustee handling Choudhury’s corporate bankruptcy, decided instead to sell them at another Sotheby’s auction set for early September in Auburn, Indiana, court records show. The collection includes five Bentleys and a dozen Rolls-Royces dating back as far as 1937.
The auction house recommended the move “given the complexity associated with the collector cars and believing that an online-only auction is not the best method of maximizing their value,” a member of Itkin’s legal team wrote in a Tuesday court filing.
That’s expected to be better for Choudhury’s creditors — who include a group of women with millions of dollars in legal judgments against him. Roughly 80,000 people typically attend the Indiana event, which is one of the largest annual auctions, the court filing says.
But it’s uncertain it will be held as the coronavirus spreads, so Itkin asked a federal bankruptcy court for permission to sell the cars at any appropriate auction. A judge granted her that authority Wednesday.
RM Sotheby’s spokeswoman Meghan McGrail confirmed the change of plans. The company contacted all consignors for the Florida sale to determine whether they wanted to participate in the online format, and the trustee “has chosen to hold the cars for an auction at a later date, to be determined later this year,” she said in an email.
A lawyer for Choudhury declined to comment for this story.
The delay further extends the saga of Choudhury’s 22 cars, which only account for roughly half of his prized collection. The rest have yet to be tracked and seized.
The 76-year-old allegedly stashed the cars set for auction at a Miami warehouse in December 2016 amid a spate of legal complaints accusing him of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
Miami police seized them this past December, paving the way for the auction that will help some of his alleged victims get paid. Proceeds from the auction will be split among creditors of Choudhury’s estates and the owner of the warehouse where he stored the cars for years.
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