Academy of Art University Private Collection Shifts Gears

August 23, 2018

The Academy of Art University has consigned seven classic pre-war era cars to Mecum’s August 23-25 Monterey auction, “The Daytime Sale.” The “Art on Wheels” collection includes:

 A 1929 Duesenberg Model J convertible sedan. The anticipated price tag for this car is 1 million to $1.1 million.

 A 1932 Packard Eight 902 coupe.

 A 1936 Packard Super Eight 1404 dual-cowl sport phaeton, one of only two known to exist.

 A 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet B.

 A 1940 Packard Super Eight convertible sedan believed to have carried Ginger Rogers and her mother to and from a movie set.

 A 1940 Cadillac Series 75 town car.

 A 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 convertible.

This rare vehicle sale is one aspect of a shift for the university’s 250 car private collection. It is used for educational purposes by its design students, and space is needed for newer and more relatable models. Other changes for the collection include the recent hiring of a new chief executive. Rob Fisher will oversee the transition to a public museum. Previously, the collection could only be viewed by appointment, and by the school’s design and restoration students.

The Academy of Art University was established in a rented loft in 1929 by the art director of Sunset magazine, Richard S. Stephens, and his wife, Clara. By the time their son, Richard A. Stephens, succeeded them in 1951, the original 45 students had grown to 250. Under his oversight, the school moved to its own property, and the transportation design department and classic car collection were added. This collection would become one of the largest in the country.

Elisa Stephens, granddaughter of the university’s founders, was appointed President in 1992. She has expanded the student population to over 14,000, and the school offers a wider range of curriculum, degree programs, and accreditation.

Part of the Academy of Art University’s stated mission is “to give back to the culture in the spirit of generosity and compassion.” With the upcoming shift from private collection to public museum, the school is upholding that commitment.

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