Usually, U.S. Marshals Service auctions are a pretty tepid affair. The auctions are a way to dispose of property that has been forfeited and confiscated as the illegal proceeds of drug operations or other criminal enterprises. The typical items being sold at such actions would include cars, houses, other real property, and assorted household goods. The same people undoubtedly show up for them, yawn a lot, and use the auctions to stock up on their inventory of, say, used cars.
I’m guessing that the U.S. Marshals Service public auction that will be held on August 1 at 9 a.m. at Skipco Auto Auction in Canal Fulton, Ohio — that’s a tiny town located near Canton — will be a little bit different.
This particular auction will include three replica cars that have a storied role in American popular culture: the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future, the “Ecto 1” 1959 Cadillac station wagon from Ghostbusters, and the Chevy Caprice Classic customized as the Batmobile from Batman Returns. The three cars are part of the property forfeited by an individual who pleaded guilty to 60 counts of criminal activity related to a health fraud scam that, according to the government, illegally charged Medicaid millions of dollars for drug and alcohol treatment that was either never provided or not medically necessary.
Only 120 people will be permitted at the live auction site, due to social distancing concerns, but people can register and bid remotely — either by submitting their maximum bid in advance, or by participating in the auction on-line or by phone.
The auction raises an interesting question: which replica car will sell for the most money? I’m pretty sure it won’t be the Batmobile, because there have been so many different versions of the Batmobile in the various Batman movies (and the classic ’60s TV show) over the years. As between the DeLorean and Ecto 1, it’s a close call– but I’m guessing the ersatz Back To The Future DeLorean will fetch the higher price. Who knows? Maybe the buyer will be hoping that Dr. Brown’s flux capacitor actually works and they can use the car to get the heck away from 2020, once and for all.