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What was the world’s largest private Ford museum heads to auction

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Photo courtesy Bonhams.

As the family of Piet den Hartogh indicated when they decided to close his museum dedicated to Ford vehicles a year and a half ago, they will sell the entire collection all at once. However, rather than sell it as a whole, they’ll break it up when the contents of the museum head to auction this summer.

The origins of the former den Hartogh Museum date back to 1956, when its namesake, who inherited a massive shipping and logistics company, bought his first Ford. Over the next several decades, he traveled the world to fulfill his mission of collecting at least one example of every model Ford offered, starting with a 1903 Model A and extending at least through the prewar years.

By 1997, at the urging of his wife, den Hartogh opened a 5,000-square-foot museum in Hillegom in the Netherlands to showcase his collection. At one point The Guinness Book of World Records certified the museum as the world’s largest Ford museum with 200-plus vehicles, though that number has fluctuated in the 20 years since. Piet den Hartogh appeared to continue buying old Ford’s until his death in 2011, and his family has thinned the collection at auction at least once, selling off nearly 50 of the vehicles in 2014.

Then in late 2016, Greske Rust, den Hartogh’s daughter and executive director of the museum, cited lack of interest and declining attendance in closing the museum.

A unique collection like this is love, attention, and enthusiasm needed to be rearranged, to be reconstituted, and to reinvent themselves again and again,” the family wrote on the museum’s website.And this passion and resources are not available.”

No news of the family’s plans to sell off the collection came until earlier this year, when rumors circled that Bonhams would handle the sale. According to a Bonhams announcement this week, that sale will indeed take place, with every vehicle in the collection selling individually with no reserve. A lot list has not been posted, but the announcement makes mention of 200-plus Fords and Lincolns, along with 50-plus motorcycles.

“The family has now decided that the time has come to share their remarkable collection with the legions of Ford fans who will ensure that each piece gets the attention it deserves,” Bonhams wrote in the press release.

The den Hartogh Museum sale will take place June 23 in Hillegom. For more information, visit