The Sun ran this article about the Mullin Automotive Museum auction held on April 26, 2024 with the Interesting headline to sucker you in ;“World’s greatest’ car collection goes up for auction for tragic reason – classic vehicles sell for as little as $650”:

Obviously written as click-bait, it is yet another example of the sorry state of journalism these days where people take an article published elsewhere about the auction (most likely Basem Wasef’s article for Robb Report where he interviews Merle Mullin) and along with auction results digests out of it only enough bits to spin a sensational and totally inaccurate story.

And now that misinformation will permeate through web in varying tabloid trash pieces giving the impression that bargains were to be had on just about everything sold.

Fact is that the $650 car was a Citroen ID19, optimistically estimated to sell for between $4 – 8K USD, that Peter Mullin purchased in 2015 in poor condition but had sufficient bodywork intact to be the basis of display recreating Citroen’s “Balloon Car”, though unfortunately that never happened.

Granted it was good deal for the new buyer, but to make it roadworthy would require a serious restoration effort.

Most of the other vehicles sold at fair market value, and in some cases, like the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis for $6,605,000 USD — a world record for a Bugatti Type 57C.

1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis

Here is a video with a more nuanced overview of the auction produced by Horsepower Heritage with co-operation from Gooding & Company auctions, who were put in charge of clearing out the Mullin Museum:

In the video and in the Robb Report article, the reasoning given for the Museum’s closure is that Peter Mullin’s surviving wife Merle mentions her “bittersweet” decision…. “I feel sad. I love this museum so much, and I look around and see everything we brought together. But on the other hand, it’s good because they’re going to move on. That’s what legacy is. I am not a kid, and we don’t have offspring who are in a position to oversee a collection.” However some doubt if a sell-off is what Peter would have wanted.

Peter & Merle Mullin

When Peter opened the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, Calif., in 2011, Merle’s nephew David Hertz transformed Otis Chandler’s 45,000-square-foot car-storage facility into an homage to the 1937 Paris Auto Salon.

Merle goes on to say; “Peter was very, very specific and always said, ‘We are not the owners of the cars, we are their stewards. We want to ensure they are well looked-after, preserved, and shared,’ Those are the things that really meant a lot to him.”  In contrast  she then says; “He was concerned about preservation for future generations to enjoy them,  It would’ve been Peter’s wish to live forever, of course. But if that didn’t happen, his dream was that they’d be taken care of and not sequestered somewhere and never shared with the public. He just wanted the cars to be enjoyed.”  

The Mullin Museum was the perfect venue for the public to appreciate the collection.  An endowment through Mullin’s estate could have kept the doors open for decades!  

Instead dollars over desire prevailed. $19,016,296 USD to be exact with $1,318,768 coming from the sale of 33 Citroëns.  (We published an article on the estimates and actual selling prices of them,)

The only thing stated at the beginning of the auction in tribute to Peter Mullin and Merle’s desire was that the collection will be well looked-after, preserved, and shared.  

Auctioning the contents hardly guaranteed that.   Such a shame to loose the this phenomenal tribute to French automotive achievement.

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