The court will decide who rightfully owns the car.
Every enthusiast’s worst nightmare is to one day find your car is gone. It’s even worse when the vehicle in question is incredibly rare, so replacing it isn’t exactly simple. That’s exactly what Roy Leiske experienced with the disappearance of his 1938 Talbot Lago T150C-SS Teardrop Coupe, a French sports car worth a small fortune since only about 16 were ever made. His was stolen in 2001, smuggled to Europe, was restored, then came back to the US in 2016 and since has been in the middle of a huge legal fight.
Stolen from a Milwaukee factory where it was being restored, the French car is apparently in excellent condition now. When it was brought back into the United States and the current owner tried registering it, that’s when the system flew into action. After all, registering a stolen car doesn’t really work. But it gets more complicated.
Currently, the car is owned by a dental company founder, Rick Workman, who lives in Illinois. However, the court is trying to decide if it should remain with Workman or be returned to Leiske’s heir, his cousin Richard Mueller. If that’s not interesting enough, Mueller sold a percentage of his ownership in the Talbot to Joseph Ford III, a classic car seller based in Florida.
The man who sold the Talbot to Workman was Christopher Gardner, an American living in Switzerland. Gardner was asking a cool $7.6 million for the French sports car, with $6.8 million going into his pocket when it sold. Now Gardner has been indicted by a federal grand jury for wire fraud and transporting a stole car in foreign commerce. Authorities say it was Gardner himself who originally stole the vehicle, then forged documents to transport it out of the country.
What it comes down to is Workman wants to keep the car he paid a steep price to own, even though it was stolen property, something he hadn’t a clue about. Mueller and Ford want it returned to them immediately, having filed suit to get it back after Workman refused to hand it over. Since then it’s been bouncing through the court system, with different judges finding differently on the case. Recently, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Mueller and Ford and continue legally pursuing ownership of the Talbot.
Nobody wants their beloved car stolen, and it’s understandable why returning the property would be the desired outcome. You also don’t want to think you’re buying a legitimate vehicle, then find out it was stolen. This case is all-around unfortunate but hopefully will be resolved soon.
Source: Washington Post
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