RM Sotheby’s: 40 Years Down the Road

The past, present, and future of the industry-leading RM Sotheby’s.

RM Sotheby’s

As RM celebrates 40 years in the collector car industry, it is remarkable to consider the humble beginnings from which the RM Sotheby’s Group has emerged. RM Auto Restoration, the original iteration of RM, started as a small garage with Rob Myers as the founder and sole employee and has since grown to become a world leader in the restoration of rare and valuable automobiles. The RM name has also grown to incorporate RM Sotheby’s, the world’s largest auction house for investment-quality automobiles; RM Auctions, a subsidiary specializing in the sale of mainstream American classics, European sports cars, muscle cars, customs, and hot rods; and RM Private Sales, a division providing discreet and honest advice with unparalleled global transaction execution capabilities. Together, the RM Sotheby’s Group is equipped to fully service the global collector car community and has enjoyed record-setting success both on show fields and auction podiums.

1976

RM Classic Cars begins operations in a small garage in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, with Rob Myers as founder and sole employee. Equipped with basic tools and a penchant for old-world craftsmanship, Myers’ reputation for quality work begins to spread throughout the market.

1978

The first person to lend a hand and join the team is Rob’s cousin, Ray Ouellette, working first on body and paintwork, then eventually as the parts manager for RM Restoration. Ray retired in 2014 and sadly passed away in 2018; however, he was still doing what he loved—restoring cars in his own garage.

1979

RM is officially incorporated as a registered company and moves to a larger facility in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, to accommodate its growing business and expanding list of restoration projects.

1987

Dan Warrener joins RM as the first sales manager. He would subsequently become partner in 1998, following several years of working as a Car Specialist and traveling the world sourcing cars. Dan would retire in 2006.

Gerry Hockin becomes principal CPA and strategic business advisor to RM, where he would be instrumental in some of the first transactions that launched the company into the auction business. After selling his own successful accounting firm, Gerry would join RM as CFO in 2010, where he would continue to handle various acquisitions and act as a trusted advisor.

1988

RM establishes a new sales division, RM Classic Cars Inc., and brings on Mike Fairbairn as one of the three originating partners. Mike would help facilitate several ventures along the way, retiring as a partner in 2014. He continues to play an active role as a Car Specialist.

1989

Don McLellan joins RM, doing electrical work, fixing gauges, mechanical work and road testing. Don would soon advance to Shop Supervisor in 1999, followed by Shop Manager in 2001. Involved with several concours wins with RM Auto Restoration, Don would later become part owner in 2005, where he continues to lead RM’s award-winning restorers.

1992

Dan Spendick, owner of Classic Car Productions Inc., joins RM as a partner, and is instrumental in conducting RM’s very first auction in Toronto, Ontario. Dan, now a former partner, still owns CCP, which has evolved into Canada’s oldest and largest indoor classic car auction.

1994

Two new Michigan auctions are added to the auction calendar, and participation in the famous Meadow Brook Hall Concours event lands RM in the catalogue auction business and propels annual sales to more than $20 million.

1995

Dana Santavy-Brezzi joins the RM team. What started out as a summer internship would turn into a very successful career for Dana. Joining RM as a receptionist, she would quickly become the operations and administration manager. As the company grew, Dana would be instrumental in client development, procedures, and eventually leadership as she would establish many of the departments that RM has today. Dana spent most of her career as the executive administrative associate to the CEO, playing a key role in some of the most important consignments and greatest milestones in RM history. Dana would pass away in 2016 after a long and courageous battle with cancer, changing the lives of many RM clients, employees and friends.

1996

Greg Sparling joins the RM team, setting up RM’s first computer system network and Internet access. After attending his first auction, Greg would develop RM’s e-business and oversee site logistics and operations for all auctions. Continuing to maintain, improve, and introduce new logistical initiatives onsite, Greg currently holds the title of Director of Operations. 

Clark Ferguson joins the RM team as general manager of the auto restoration division, turning his love for the classic car hobby into a career. He would be witness to the restoration team doubling in size to over 30 technicians. Clark would remain the general manager, producing award-winning work before passing away in 2007.

1997

“Uncle Buck” Kamphausen partners with RM to acquire the Monterey Auction Company, where RM’s first Monterey auction is held in August. Buck still serves as the company’s roving ambassador and valued advisor to this day.

Ernie Morreau joins RM as a mechanic, eventually becoming shop foreman in 2005, assisting with the day-to-day operations. Ernie would become part owner in 2013, where he and Don McLellan continue to lead RM’s award-winning restorers.

1988

Jack Boxstrom joins the RM team to further develop the Monterey auction into what would become its flagship sale. Building client relationships and turning the event into a mainstay on the auction calendar, Jack would become one of RM’s most prolific Car Specialists and remains an active contributor to the Monterey auction, now in its 34th year. “Monterey Jack” would hang up his racing and consigning helmet in 2018, but he can still be seen on the peninsula amongst the cars and camaraderie at Monterey.

RM brings on Gord Duff as its first transportation and logistics liaison. Fostering numerous strong relationships with RM clients and developing extensive technical familiarity with virtually every marque, Gord would transition to the Car Specialist role, where he would become one of the leading consignors on the team. With his extensive knowledge, professional capacities and decades-long client relationships, Gord is now the Global Head of Auctions.

1999

RM launches a new auction in Amelia Island as the Official Auction House of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance with the help of longtime friend and supporter Bill Warner. RM remains the official auction house of “the Amelia” to this day, where it sold its first million-dollar car, a 1960 Maserati Tipo 60/61 “Birdcage,” marking RM as the largest commercial enterprise in the collector car world with sales surpassing $75 million.

2000

RM expands its in-house services to provide the discerning car collector with an unparalleled, complete experience, including appraisal, acquisition, restoration, sales, and auction, as well as its auction calendar with the addition of the Arizona auction, with nearly $7 million sold in only four hours.

Ian Kelleher joins the RM team as a Car Specialist and develops the company’s auction catalogues, marketing and brand to what it is today. Playing an instrumental role as the key liaison with our partners at Sotheby’s, Ian would take on the position of Chief Marketing Officer in 2016, where he continues to grow RM’s international marketing and PR presence out of Sotheby’s New York headquarters.

1930 Mercedes-Benz SS Roadster

2004

1938 Horch 853A Erdmann & Rossi Sport Cabriolet

2006

1931 Daimler Double Six 50 Corsica Drophead Coupe

2010

1933 Delage D8S Roadster

2013

1934 Packard 1108 Twelve

2015

1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A
F. Ramseier & Cie Worblaufen Cabriolet

2002

RM starts its own in-house design and advertising departments to manage the growing volume of printed materials needed for its expanding services, including its award-winning catalogues. The Boca Raton auction is also added to RM’s growing calendar of events.

Donnie Gould joins RM as a partner and Car Specialist. He would play an integral role in developing RM’s Florida auction presence and be a natural choice for president when RM established its subsidiary company, Auctions America, in 2010. Donnie currently acts as one of our most integral consignors for our RM Auctions branded sales.

Rebecca Johnson joins the RM team after spending five years working in the automotive industry with the “Big Three.” Within her first year at RM, Rebecca would become the face of RM’s administrative team, overseeing the auction process from start to finish. Rebecca is now RM’s Director of Administration.

2003

Stephanie Jacklin begins her career at RM, building the company’s Client Service team to what is it today, with a reputation for offering an unmatched level of concierge service. Stephanie has transitioned into working closely with the Specialist team and other international departments as the Director of Client Development & Sales, working to identify and secure business opportunities to bring cars and clients to the auctions.

2004

RM celebrates its 25th anniversary with an amazing classic car weekend in Chatham-Kent, raising money for local charities and jump-starting RetroFestTM, a vintage car event that has been held annually ever since.

2006

No stranger to the collector car world, Rob’s son Shelby Myers officially joins the RM team, playing an instrumental role in the establishment and growth of RM’s European branch in London, England. Now the Global Head of Private Sales, Shelby draws on his valuable experience to provide increased levels of service to RM’s global network of clientele.

RM expands its international footprint, establishing operations in London, England. RM Europe is now thriving, with nearly 20 employees across the Continent and the UK operating four annual auctions and continuing the growth of RM Sotheby’s worldwide presence. 

2007

RM’s European division holds its inaugural sale, in association with Sotheby’s, at the legendary Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy, with record-breaking results totaling US$46 million.

RM holds its first London auction, entering the history books as the largest of its kind ever held in the United Kingdom. More than 85 cars were offered in a headline−grabbing extravaganza, including a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster from the Bernie Ecclestone Collection that brought $8.25 million.

Alain Squindo joins the RM team as a researcher and cataloguer. Over time, Alain would successfully reshape and expand the department, becoming RM’s Director of Private Collections, then Vice President, and finally achieving the title of Chief Operating Officer. Alain’s leadership has continued to keep RM at the forefront of the industry, especially with reference to client development, cataloguing and operations.

2008

No stranger to RM, Mario VanRay joins the RM team, working onsite as part of the lineup crew before quickly moving up to General Manager of RM Auto Restorations in the same year. During his management, the restoration team would attain four Pebble Beach wins and numerous awards at Amelia Island, as well as other prestigious concours events. Mario is presently the Executive Assistant to the CEO and Special Projects at RM Sotheby’s.

2009

RM celebrates its 30th anniversary by smashing its past world-record price for a motor car sold at auction with the sale of a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa for €9.020.000 ($12,402,500 US).

2010

RM continues to leave its stamp on the European market with the introduction of a new biennial sale in Monaco, held during the same weekend as the Grand Prix Historique. 

2011

RM expands its North American operation with a new subsidiary, Auctions America, located in Auburn, Indiana, at the newly acquired Auburn Auction Park.

As part of the company’s continued European expansion strategy, RM assumes the esteemed role as the official auction house of the celebrated Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, hosting its debut biennial sale on the shores of Lake Como, Italy.

Born into a car family with a fourth-generation car dealership, Alexander Weaver joins RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist. A true enthusiast who is thoroughly immersed in all aspects of the collector car hobby, Alexander is now the manager of RM’s West Coast office in Culver City, CA.

2012

RM opens its doors to a new Los Angeles office in Culver City.

RM’s private and estate collection division enjoys significant growth, hosting five standalone single-vendor sales at various locations across the United States and Europe, including the Milhous Collection, presented by RM in association with Sotheby’s, which achieves an impressive US$38.3 million in sales.

Further expanding the European team, Augustin Sabatié-Garat joins RM Europe as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. With his extensive experience in the auction business and close ties to industry leaders, Augustin would become the auction manager for several of the European sales in 2015.

2013

RM’s Monterey auction achieves more than $125 million in sales to become the highest-grossing
collector car auction of all time.

RM Auctions, in association with Sotheby’s, hosts Art of the Automobile, the first major collector car auction held in New York in over a decade, selling nearly $63 million in just two hours.

2014

RM celebrates its 35th anniversary in the collector car business with its best performance to date: $470 million in auction sales. This year is headlined by the highest-grossing Amelia Island auction in history, posting an impressive $35.9 million in sales.

RM also posted its best-ever European sale results at the Monaco auction with an incredible €41 million in sales (US$56.9 million).

RM holds its first auction in Paris during the world-famous Rétromobile week, a milestone in the continued growth of its European arm.

2015

RM Auctions and Sotheby’s announce the formation of a new strategic partnership as Sotheby’s acquires an ownership interest in the company, henceforth dubbed RM Sotheby’s. The partnership unites the two companies for the full calendar of future automobile auctions.

2016

The RM Group stuns the market with its presentation of Duemila Ruote—the largest automobile collection sale ever staged in Europe, attracting unprecedented global interest with more than 3,000 bidders from 57 countries.

Kenneth Ahn joins RM Sotheby’s as President. A proven leader with global experience, a strategic mind-set and an exceptional track record, Ken leads the global team as RM continues to evolve and raise the bar throughout the classic car industry. He would be instrumental in the implementation of RM’s Financial Services division, as well as its Online Only auctions, and continues to drive the business forward while developing growth and strategy and enhancing business value.

2017

RM Sotheby’s hosts the Ferrari—Leggenda e Passione auction during Ferrari’s 70th anniversary celebrations in Maranello, Italy, and generates more than €63 million with a one-of-a-kind 2017 LaFerrari Aperta highlighting the sale, with all proceeds benefitting Save the Children efforts.

The Auctions America subsidiary is fully integrated into the RM Sotheby’s Group, with all sales previously held by the company now hosted under the RM banner. The Auburn Auction Park continues operations as an RM Sotheby’s satellite office.

In the ultimate culmination of the partnership, and one of the most highly publicized automotive auctions ever staged, RM Sotheby’s sells the Michael Schumacher Monaco Grand Prix–winning Ferrari F2001 for a record $7,504,000 in the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, representing the first automobile ever offered in a Sotheby’s art auction in what was undoubtedly one of the most publicized automotive auction moments ever.

2018

Maarten ten Holder joins the RM team as Executive Vice President and Chief Auctioneer. No stranger to RM Sotheby’s, Maarten brings a wealth of knowledge to the team, with over 25 years of experience at Sotheby’s, stretching across Europe, the Americas, and beyond.

2019

The RM Sotheby’s Group launches a formalized private sales division, helmed by veteran specialist Shelby Myers as Global Head of Private Sales. The first featured offering is a 1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification,’ which is successfully sold just days following the announcement.

RM Sotheby’s announces that it will become the official auction partner of Aston Martin in 2019, presenting an additional auction evening during the 2019 Monterey weekend, dedicated specifically to Aston Martin.

RM Sotheby’s sells the most valuable car ever sold at auction when Greg Whitten’s 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO brings $48.4 million at the company’s flagship Monterey sale.

RM Sotheby’s sets records and develops a new market with the Youngtimer Collection, a single-owner group of more than 140 cars, offered largely without reserve across the Paris, Amelia Island, Fort Lauderdale, and Essen 2019 sales and comprising some of the most collectible European and Japanese marques and models of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

RM Sotheby’s expands once again into new international markets, hosting its first sale in Essen, Germany, and announcing the Sáragga Collection, a private collection sale to be held in Portugal in September 2019.

RM Sotheby’s and Formula 1® Group announce a global auction collaboration, with the first-ever international collector car auction in the Middle East set for the season-ending 2019 Etihad Airways F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 30 November.

Sotheby’s and RM Sotheby’s announce a new series of online-only, single-lot automobile auctions. The sales offer new and seasoned collectors alike a unique process for discovering and acquiring cars selected specifically for the new platform.

RM Sotheby’s announces their first-ever auction in Portugal with the presentation of the incredible Sáragga Collection, entirely without reserve, near Comporta, Portugal, on 21 September 2019. Comprising the cars of discerning enthusiast and collector Mr. Sáragga, the collection consists of over 130 cars and features many rare and highly collectible individual automobiles, including exclusive Porsche models and several cars with fascinating Portuguese provenance. Making for a true destination event, the Sáragga Collection will be held at the owner’s estate near the stylish beach resort region of Comporta, Portugal.

RM Sotheby’s celebrates its 40th Anniversary in Chatham-Kent and partners with local organizations to raise funds for various charities in the surrounding area.

Event Chair and former RM employee Fannie Vavoulis spearheads the planning of the 40th Anniversary celebration in Chatham-Kent in partnership with RetroFestTM and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.


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