Courtesy RM Auctions
Bob and Paul Milhous are brothers, business partners, and the owners of one of the most eclectic private collections in the world.Over five decades, they have amassed an enormous collection of mechanical musical instruments, rare vintage cars, and collectibles from Tiffany’s lamps to old pistols to a full-size carousel.
The collection eventually became so large that the brothers, who made their fortune in the printing business, built their own 39,500-square-foot private museum to house it in a corporate park in Boca Raton, Florida.
Now, the brothers have decided that it’s time to downsize. They’re liquidating the contents of their museum in an auction in late February, to be run by RM Auctions and Sotheby’s. The collection is estimated to bring in some $40 million, RM Auctions said.
The Milhous brothers are distant relatives of Richard Milhous Nixon. They made their fortune printing circulars and comic strips for newspapers.
After moving their massive collection three times, they finally settled it in a custom-built warehouse in Boca Raton.
The museum has never been open to the public, though it has hosted countless charity events since it was built in the mid-1990s.
For the first time, in the days leading up to the auction, anyone who buys the $120 catalogue will be able to attend a preview of the contents.
The 46-foot carousel is the highlight of the Milhous Collection. It was custom built for the brothers and took several years to build.
Cars are the other highlight of the collection. This Oldsmobile Limited 5-Passenger Touring is the only known surviving model from 1912 and is expected to sell for between $1.4 million and $1.6 million.
This Packard Super-Eight Convertible Victoria was the brothers' first car; its estimated hammer price is $150,000 to $250,000.
The collection also contains around 100 of the world's most elaborate organs. This Ruth Style 38-B Fair Organ is estimated to sell for between $1 million and $1.2 million.
This Weber Maestro orchestrion, which contains pipes, pianos, and drums, is one of only six ever made.
Hundreds of other mementos are also for sale. The auction catalogue clocks in at a whopping 380 pages.
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