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Leno friend’s collection being sold for charity


A selection of vehicles from Robert White collection | Bonhams photos
A selection of vehicles from Robert White collection | Bonhams photos

The collection of motorcycles cars, watches and cameras assembled by the late Robert White will be sold at a Bonhams’ auction this fall to benefit the construction of new cancer-treatment facilities at two hospitals in England, the auction house has announced.

“The collection contains a vast treasure trove of collectible mechanical delights worth more than £2 million, including motorcycles, motor cars, vintage Leica cameras, motoring mascots, Lalique, and several rare wristwatches,” Bonhams said in its news release.

“Robert White was a great man and an enthusiast of all things mechanical,” Bonhams co-chairman Malcolm Barber added. “The sale is a showcase of his life’s passion, with more than 500 lots set to raise more than £2 million  for charity.”

(Barber was speaking pre-Brexit, when the pound was at $1.47; after the vote, it plummeted to $1.29.)

“The collection is the result of a life’s passion for photography – Robert was the founder of one of the UK’s leading photographic retailers – and his adoration for motorcycles. We’re delighted to be able to offer this for sale, and for such a great charitable cause.”

The news release included this quote from White’s close friend, entertainer and car collector Jay Leno: “They say that you should never be possessed by your possessions; but Robert took more pleasure from his possessions than any man I have ever met. The evening ritual of winding his George Daniels watch, for example, was an active delight to him as an opportunity to take pleasure in its mechanism.”

Leno and White, who died last year, bonded after White sold Leno his Brough Superior motorcycles, with the money going to benefit a new cancer treatment center at Dorset County Hospital and new diagnostic facilities at Poole Hospital. White was a native of Dorset, England.

“We spent time together in England before he died,” Leno said. “He didn’t feel sorry for himself or ‘woe-is-me’. He realistically faced up to his position and decided he wanted to give something back to the people in Poole Hospital who had helped him with his illness.”

White, who was born in 1953, started with a small camera shop in Poole and built one of England’s leading photographic retailers. In addition to cars and motorcycles, he owned and flew a vintage Boeing-Sterman bi-plane.

Circa 1929 Megola 640cc touring model
Circa 1929 Megola 640cc touring model

Motorcycles to be sold September 19 from the White collection include:

  • Circa 1929 Megola 640cc Touring Model
  • MV Agusta 500cc 3-Cylinder Grand Prix recreation
  • MV Agusta 500cc 4-Cylinder Grand Prix recreation
  • 1974 Ducati 750SS
  • 1951 Vincent 998cc Series C Black Shadow


Cars include:

  • 1930 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer with Le Mans-style coachwork
  •  1930 Bentley 4½-Litre Le Mans-style Tourer
  •  1959 AC Ace-Bristol Roadster
  • 1958 AC Ace Roadster
  • Pur Sang ‘Type 51’ Sports Two Seater


1958 Ace
1958 Ace
Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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