Seven Ferraris — one of them the model made famous in “Miami Vice.” Three Rolls-Royces — one owned by late actor Tony Curtis. Two Bentleys. A Lamborghini — one of just 100 made. An antique Jaguar roadster. And a Harley-Davidson.
These vehicles were owned by the late real estate developer Richard Welkowitz and stored at Lionheart Motorcars in East Hempfield Township.
Now, his estate is auctioning them and several other luxury vehicles he owned through collector-car giant Mecum Auctions.
“This is a special collection because of the condition of the cars and because most of these cars haven’t been restored — they are in original, mint condition — and they’re very low mileage. Which is really, really unusual,” John Kraman, Mecum’s TV commentator on NBC Sports Network, said Monday.
For example, Welkowitz’s 1989 Ferrari Testarossa — a 1986 model was used in “Miami Vice” — has just 105 miles.
And of those restored, Welkowitz was meticulous. His widow, Carol Welkowitz, told Mecum that he sent one of the Rolls-Royces back for a complete interior redo “after noticing a crinkle in the leather of the rear seat.” And that was after he spent years having the car restored. The complete restoration cost more than $500,000.
And what might the vehicles bring at the auction? That’s difficult to say, Kraman said.
“Essentially, there are no comparables,” he said, given their low mileage and condition. But Ferrari is the number-one collectible car brand in the world, he said, adding he expects buyer interest from all over the world. The sale is scheduled for July 10 to 18 in Indianapolis.
“These cars will bring crazy money,” he said.
Financial claims against estate
The Welkowitz estate will need it.
Shortly after the 73-year-old developer's death by suicide in December, lenders began filing claims against his estate.
More than a dozen lenders filed claims exceeding $150 million, according to filings with the county’s register of wills office. They include two claims by Fulton Bank filed May 8 totaling more than $11.8 million. The largest single claim was for nearly $42 million, filed on behalf of Customers Bank of Wyomissing in February. That bank filed another claim for more than $5 million the same day.
Another four entities filed lawsuits in the county prothonotary’s office exceeding $12 million. Only one of the cases has been settled: Peoples Security Bank & Trust settled its $625,625 claim in March. Peoples, with a Bethlehem address, also had filed a claim for that amount with the register of wills.
Welkowitz founded Crown Properties, which became Blackford Development, in 1968. Among the many properties he developed was Lancaster Outlet City, which opened in 1982 on Lincoln Highway East. It’s now Tanger Outlets.
Welkowitz was seemingly a man of contrasts.
He owned flashy cars but didn’t drive them.
He was said to be deeply private; despite his development footprint in the region, he appears in very few news accounts associated with them. He held the title of Baron of Blackford, bestowed by Lord Lyon of Scotland, according to his biography.
Four life-size lion sculptures guard his Manheim Township Tudor house. It’s 4,500 square feet and is assessed at $624,000 — modest, compared to his property just north of Boca Raton, Florida, which is built in the style of a French chateau. That 9,700-square-foot home is listed for sale at $6.19 million. It, too, has lion sculptures outside.
Estate remains mum
Alex Snyder, the attorney listed for Welkowitz’s estate, declined comment on claims about the estate.
Welkowitz’s Blackford business, located at 120 North Pointe Blvd. off Oregon Pike appeared vacant on Tuesday. A woman in another office on the same floor said Blackford had moved, but she didn’t know its new location. A phone message left wasn’t returned.
His Manheim Township home also seemed vacant. A man at Lionheart Motorcars, where a photographer was taking pictures of one of Welkowitz’s Ferraris on Tuesday, said he was with the estate and took a reporter’s business card to give to a family member, but no one called as of Thursday afternoon.