The first time I visited Clinton Auto Auction in Manhattan, I was immediately intrigued.
I’d been in New York a few times, but never before had I seen such a massive and impressive array of cars and trucks.
The parking lot was packed with cars, trucks and SUVs from all over the world, and they were all lined up in neat rows along the parking lot wall.
They were all waiting to be sold, but no one seemed to care.
Clinton Auto was a private company, and its founder, Michael Berenbaum, was a retired vice president of Goldman Sachs.
There was no publicity campaign to sell them.
But the auctioneer told me they were being sold by a large, powerful private equity firm called Cerberus Capital Management.
I had never heard of Cerberus.
When I finally arrived, I immediately started to understand what this was all about.
I didn’t know anything about Cerberus or Clinton Auto, but I had seen the commercials for the company’s auctions and wondered what was happening.
I started to get a sense of what was going on behind the scenes.
Cerberus is a private equity fund run by the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) is one of the largest companies in the world.
Buffett has been in the media for many years, so I was expecting to see him at the auctions.
But there was no Warren Buffett.
He was just Michael Burenbaum.
When the auction started, I didn´t even know he had been involved with Clinton Auto.
I was there for a couple of hours.
When it was over, there were more than 30,000 cars on display, many of them brand new.
I sat next to the man who was the auction manager.
He introduced himself and began to explain why the auctions were taking place.
He showed me the big red letters on the front of each car.
There were also large, bold letters on each side of each vehicle that said “UNLESS PRIVATE ENTITY, PLEASE DO NOT BRING THIS CAR” on the back.
There are lots of other red letters that read “MAY BE REASONABLE,” “COMPROMISED,” “NOT AVAILABLE” and “NOT GOOD FOR YOU.”
I asked him what these meant.
“They are the terms and conditions of our agreement with Cerberus,” he said.
“If you don’t comply, we can close the auction.”
I didn`t understand what he meant by “not a valid bidder.”
He said that he wasn´t the one who would close the auctions, and he didn`T want the auction to go on.
I asked if he had a reason to close the sale.
“Yes, I can do that,” he told me.
“But this is my private property.
I will not let you sell these cars.
We don´t want to be the first to do this.
If you want to do anything else, we will do it on our own.
I understand you have to follow the terms of our contract, but you can’t sell cars to other people.
We have to go to the people who pay for them.”
Berenbach explained to me that he was not selling cars for a profit, and that his goal was to sell as many cars as possible.
He said he was looking to “buy as many [cars] as possible.”
Burenbach explained that he had purchased a lot of cars for his own collection.
But his goal, he said, was to have as many vehicles as possible on display as quickly as possible so that the public could see what the auction was all for.
“There is no profit motive,” he explained.
“I would like to get this as soon as possible, so we can sell as quickly and safely as possible as well.
There is a lot to understand about this auction, and I want to take the time to explain it.”
Barenbach then explained what the sale was about.
It was not about profit.
“We are trying to help people buy cars that are not really theirs,” he says.
“It is an opportunity to sell cars that they don´ t want, and to get their money back.”
In other words, if the car is sold for $1,000,000 (about $20,000), the buyer has to pay the full purchase price of the car, and if the sale is held at $1 million, the seller pays the entire purchase price plus the interest and the closing fee.
The buyer can also deduct any payment from the sale, and this will be the difference between the total sale price and the initial purchase price.
This is why the auction has a fee of $500.
If the sale goes over the fee, the car must be sold for at least $1.000, and the fee will be deducted from the remaining amount of the sale and the seller can claim the difference. I tried to