AZ Auction Pissing Match – Round XI

 

Barrett Jackson Auction

Oh, yeah, it's a real class-fest over there at Barrett-Jackson. Now I can see why Craig was upset.

If there’s anything I learned while I was an editor with Hemmings Motor News, it was that Craig Jackson from Barrett-Jackson was one of the world’s greatest soreheads.

Around about 2004, when I edited Hemmings Muscle Machines, we wrote a piece on muscle cars as “investments.” In it, we heavily quoted Barrett-Jackson’s “mini-index” that purported to show that investing in collector cars provided a more solid return than that of blue chip investments in the stock market over time. We also quoted opposing views.

In the intro to the story, I described the stage at Barrett-Jackson on a Saturday night, with the hot television lights burning as a “mosh pit.”

I’m still not sure what’s offensive about that. If you’re under the age of 40, and somewhat aware that rock and roll has other forms besides Doo Wop and Elvis, you’d most likely recognize a “mosh pit” as a hive of hectic activity. It’s still an accurate description, especially if you watched the auctions from those days, when anybody with a bidder’s pass could walk up on the stage.

At any rate, Craig Jackson took offense. The upshot was that I was on a conference call with him, Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis and the publisher at Hemmings.

For a good 20 minutes, I listened to Craig Jackson bark into the phone, listing the reason why he thought that the term “mosh pit” wasn’t an “endearing” term that could be used to describe the event. I disagreed then, and I still do now.

As I learned many months later, the offense came from the fact that competing auction Russo & Steele — then only three years into its establishment as one of the top auctions in Scottsdale in January — at one point ran an ad that suggested Russo & Steele was the place to be if you weren’t comfortable with the mosh pit atmosphere at some of the other auctions.

Since Russo & Steele started out eleven years ago, it has been a very large thorn in Barrett-Jackson’s side. Prior to starting his own auction, Drew Alcazar (co-owner, president and CEO at Russo & Steele) managed the Barrett-Jackson auction just up the road. The tension and unrelenting competition between the two has risen to a head time and time again since then.

Eleven years later, it’s on the front burner again. Dueling press releases over Russo & Steele’s new site, then move back to its old site, have escalated over the last few days.  The blog at Hemmings Motor News has posted both releases in their entirety. You can read them, and the back-story here:

and here:

The bottom line: Both Craig Jackson and Drew Alcazar are highly competitive businessmen, and are — at their very core — car salesmen and in a way, entertainers.

I’ve had conversations with both of them during tense periods. The last time I talked with Drew Alcazar, it was immediately after the 2009 edition of his auction, where a monsoon swept his tent away and shut his auction down for a period of two days. I asked him some difficult questions, but at all times he remained gracious, honest and forthright. If I’m going to believe anybody in this exchange, it’s going to be him.

 

About Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald is an automotive writer, photographer and editor with credits in Hemmings Motor New, the Boston Globe, Forbes, the Washington Post, Esquire and BoldRide.com
This entry was posted in Publishing, Vintage Cars and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to AZ Auction Pissing Match – Round XI

  1. Bob says:

    I have met Drew and Josephine Alcazar, I think both are very gracious and respectable people that know how to put on a no nonsense great show. I used to be a bidder at Barret-Jackson, but after the last couple years I feel like it has turned into one big circus and it takes the fun out of the hobby. I like the old world feel and I know many will agree that Russo and Steele continues to give that mom and pop welcoming feel. They know how to take care of their clients and I have great respect for Drew and Josephine in what they have accomplished over the years. Thanks for putting on a good show and I look forward to attending this year.

  2. Pete says:

    Auctions are no place for investors to buy. And I have seen some interesting things “happen” to sellers in Arizona.

  3. Bob Lichty says:

    Having been in the old cars business for 40 years in publishing, event promotion, car sales, and auctions, I’ve seen it all. I also knew all the founders at Barrett-Jackson. Craig’s brother was a nice guy before passing away a few years ago. The parents were fine but Craig has proven to be a pretty self obsessed nasty person over all. Steve is as bad and why does he need to hide behind those sun glasses all the time anyway, he can’t possibly think it makes him look “cool”. While Drew, just as you have observed, always seems to be a reasonable guy wanting to do what is far, sometimes at his own expense. I don’t think it is hard to figure which side of this to believe either. Good post.

  4. Tom says:

    Yankee Driver……you need to check your facts. Russo and Steele never had the permit for the land that they said they had for their new site location. The City of Scottsdale has responded and stated factually that Drew had no agreement. Who do you believe now?

    • yankeedriver says:

      I believe that if Craig Jackson was willing to take time out of a busy day to holler at a magazine editor over two words, he’s certainly willing to throw his weight around at city hall.

  5. robert holcomb says:

    i just discovered this interesting site after visiting my morning boston.com. lots of good stuff here so thanks. i particularly liked the rwd snow tire column. being a native californian, winter driving was a fairly rare experience for me. after 20 years in boston, our rwd cars sport a winter wheelset mounted with blizzaks. pretty amazing product! and btw, my subie forester doesn’t crab slick hills. it takes on the snow as competant as any of my former suv’s.

    regarding barret-jackson, i went to a few back in the 80′s. we lived in scottsdale then. i thought it was a glitzy sleaze show. the crowd was pretty goofy too. old fat guys sporting lots of gold and a 55 year old broad in tow painted up in gloss and wearing clothes more suited to her younger sister’s neice…but i liked looking at the hardware anyway.

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