The Story ~
This is the story of Alex Miller and his wife, Imogene. They lived in East Orange, Vermont on an old, rather small farm. Alex was, what many would call, a miser. He and Imogene didn't spend much money. Alex even salvaged old rusty nails from burned out buildings to repair his roof. He drove an old ratty VW Beetle. When it died, he found another VW Beetle to drive that was even worse. Ratty VW Beetles began to litter his property. Alex and Imogene's neighbors believed that they were paupers with no money and would help them out from time to time with cash, food and other things. The Millers weren't above taking charity.
Alex Miller died in 1993. Imogene followed in 1996. With no money, the local church took a collection both times to pay for the Miller's burials in the churchyard cemetery. Shortly after Imogene's death, the state began the process of taking pocession of the farm property for back taxes that were owed.
The state collectors arrived to prepare the farm for an auction. They didn't think that it would sell for much as it was very run down and junk such as the VW Beetles was everywhere. While going through the Miller's papers, the sheriff discovered a cashe of bearer bonds that were taped to the back of a mirror on one wall. He thought that he should do a complete search of the house and outbuildings to see if there might be anything else that could be of any value. He had no idea what he was about to discover. What they found out amazed them...and the neighbors.
Alex Miller had graduated from Rutgers University. He had been the son of a wealthy financier. He and Imogene originally lived in Montclair, New Jersey. It was there that Alex had founded Miller's Flying Service in 1930. He flew a gyrocopter, (a small, homemade one passenger helicopter), for mail and delivery service all through the 1930s. Alex had a little secret that no one but him and his wife knew about. He loved cars. Actually, he was obsessed with them. His favorite cars were Stutz. But he collected others as well.
Alex wanted to keep his privacy and he was paranoid about tax collectors. So he and Imogene looked around for a new home. It would have to have space for his collection of cars. They settled on the Vermont farm. Alex didn't trust banks anymore than he did people. So he had most of his cash exchanged for gold and silver bars and coins. These he buried around their new farm. He disassembled the gyrocopter and stored it in an old one-room school house that was on his property. Over the next year or so, Alex built several dozen sheds and barns for his collection. These he built from scrap lumber and recycled old nails. These structures would hold his collection.
As was said before, Alex loved Stutz cars. Stytz Blackhawks, Stutz Bearcats, DV16's and the 32's. He had been buying these cars since the 1920s. When Stutz went out of business, Alex bought a huge supply of spare parts for his cars which he also stored in his sheds. He had also bought Locomobiles, a Stanley and a springfield Rolls Royce. These cars Alex never drove. He just loved having them. He moved them into his buildings in the middle of the night. Each car was completely wrapped in burlap to keep anyone from seeing what he had.
Over the next several years, the farm began to appear run down. But Alex still bought more and more cars. At times he would sell a few parts to make some cash rather than taking from his underground bank supply. Alex would also work long hours making and creating parts copied from the originals by hand. Collectors knew Alex and bought parts from him. They saw him as a good businessman but they also knew that, at times, he would cheat on items. None of the Miller's neighbors had any idea what was going on.
The auction that was planned was a three day affair and was billed as, "The Opening of King Stutz Tomb." It would be conducted by Christies Auction House and would take place September 6,7,8, 1996. Many celebrity auto collectors were present as well as others. In that three day period, millions of dollars was raised. Many items actually sold for far more than they were worth. The IRS took a big portion of the proceeds for back taxes. Afterward, the sheds and barns were mostly empty. The farm was deserted and the Millers had had the last laugh.