Macy’s heir sues Jay Leno over auctioned car

NEW YORK (AP) – The estate of a Macy’s heir has sued Jay Leno and others, saying the Tonight Show host was illegally sold a valuable automobile at a sham auction.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan on Oct. 14, said Leno coveted the late John W. Straus’ 1931 Duesenberg for years and tried to buy it, but Straus wasn’t willing to sell.

Leno spokesman Dick Guttman declined to comment.

Quoting a 2007 book about car collecting called The Hemi in the Barn, the lawsuit said Leno wanted the Duesenberg so badly that he tried to discourage other buyers by spreading around an erroneous rumor that the car couldn’t be moved from the garage where it had been parked for more than 50 years.

Court papers said Straus paid everything he owed to store the Duesenberg and a 1930 Rolls Royce, but the garage owners claimed they were due money and auctioned the cars off in May 2005. The lawsuit depicted the auction as a sham designed to wrest the cars away from Straus while he was ill.

Leno “knew that the purported auction was conducted in violation” of state law but bought the Duesenberg for $180,000, the court papers said. They claimed the car was worth $1.2 million.

Straus, a grandson of a Macy’s founder, died May 18. He was 88.

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