AUBURN – A classic car collector has bought an unused auto museum in northeastern Indiana that was put up for sale under an agreement to keep open a neighboring military museum that faced foreclosure.
The building owned by the Dean Kruse Foundation in Auburn was sold during an auction Sunday for $995,000.
Buyer DeWayne Keiper, a Sioux Falls, S.D., businessman, said he has numerous collector cars and much memorabilia he plans to display at the museum. He also plans to use the building as a sales showroom.
Money from the sale will go toward the $2.9 million the Kruse Foundation owes for what had been planned as a museum for the memorabilia of auto racing icon Andy Granatelli. He changed his mind about using the Auburn location.
“The location, it’s really got a car feel that carries the whole theme with what I’m doing,” Keiper told WPTA-TV of Fort Wayne. “There’s a lot of synergies I think can be created with the museum. There’s nine museums in the area so I think that will work out really well.”
The building sale coincided with classic car auctions being held as part of the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival during Labor Day weekend.
Keiper told The Star of Auburn that he had traveled there to bid on a 1933 Buick at the Auburn Auction Park but didn’t win that auction.
Keiper said he expected it would take about six months to establish his collector-car dealership in the city about 20 miles north of Fort Wayne.
Dean Kruse had said he had hoped the building would sell for $1.5 million or more. A second auction is planned for November, when Kruse expects the foundation will sell some vehicles from the military museum to help pay off the debt.
Kruse hosted classic car auctions each Labor Day for nearly four decades in Auburn that drew tens of thousands of visitors. But Kruse lost his state auctioneer’s license two years ago after being sued repeatedly in recent years for business practices that include not releasing money to vehicle consigners or vehicle titles to purchasers.
The military museum opened in 2003 after Kruse bought the inventory of a closing World War II museum in Belgium and shipped it to Auburn.