SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. _ Auctioneers Russo & Steele have filed a lawsuit against fellow auction house Leake Auctions and its parent company Ritchie Bros. after losing its hosting site for its flagship Scottsdale sale in January. The legal action also names a former Russo & Steele employee.
Russo & Steele has been a fixture of Arizona Auction week for two decades and had moved to a new location in nearby Salt River Fields three years ago. Leake announced recently that it would be joining the fray in Scottsdale in January 2020 and would be hosting its sale at Salt River Fields after inking a deal with Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which owns the property. That prompted Russo and Steele, owned and operated by Drew and Josephine Alcazar, to file two lawsuits June 10th.
The suits accuse Leake Auctions and former Russo and Steele director of operations Mark Landolfi, of “targeting their business and longstanding business partnerships in a malicious effort to take over Russo and Steele’s premium auction venue at Salt River Fields.”
A press release from Russo and Steele claims “If we had lost our venue ‘fair and square,’ we wouldn’t have dreamed of filing suit. But that’s not what happened here. This wasn’t competition. This was predatory conduct aimed at destroying one of the marquee classic car auctions in the world and it cannot be allowed to stand.“
“We aren’t going to be bullied,” said Drew Alcazar in the press release. “We are adamantly determined to defend our business because of what it means to us and because of it what it means to tens of thousands of Russo and Steele fans, vendors and sponsors who make our auction events so special.”
The company is currently looking or a new spot to hold its Scottsdale sale, scheduled for Jan. 15-19. The sale would mark the company’s 20th anniversary.
“We have a number of solid options before us and we intend to make an announcement soon,” Alcazar said. “The 20th anniversary of Russo and Steele is a tremendous milestone for our team and our family. We’re locked and loaded to make 2020 the biggest, best auction we’ve ever staged.”