FRIENDS OF THE COLLECTION
Every year some 300,000 people ooh and ooh over the collection of antique, vintage and classic cars put together by 'the late Bill Harrah, the hotel-casino owner who died in 1978. The collection, the world's largest of its kind, is in an assortment of 13 rented buildings in Sparks, Nev., next to Reno. The cars date back to 1892, and among the gems are the 1907 Thomas Flyer that won the 1908 New York-to-Paris Race, a 16-cylinder 1933 Cadillac Phaeton that belonged to Al Jolson, 18 Duesenbergs and a rich representation of Franklins, Fords and Packards. The most valuable cars are a pair of 1931 Bugatti Royales that would probably sell for $1 million each. Only six exist, and one of the two in the Harrah collection was built for King Carol II of Romania.
Last year after Holiday Inns, Inc. bought Harrah's operation, there was local worry about possible changes in the organization, especially any that would affect the car collection, which came as part of the deal. Last week the concern was renewed when word leaked out that Holiday Inns wants to dispose of the cars on the grounds that it can't afford a "non-income" venture. Leon Mandel, a Reno resident, a senior editor of Motor Trend and author of a forthcoming biography, The Life and Times of William Fisk Harrah, Gambling Magnate, quickly joined with a group that included former Reno mayor Sam Dibitonto, technical adviser to the Maserati Information Exchange; former city planner George Charchalis, a Rolls-Royce buff; and state Senator William Raggio—"a car cuckoo, too," says Mandel—to form Friends of the Collection. In the space of a few days, the Friends got Holiday Inns to postpone any sale while they attempt to raise $30 million to buy the collection and keep it intact and in Nevada. As a first step, Governor Robert List has offered the Friends the assistance of the state's Economic Development Agency.
"We can't have a Louvre to express what we are," says Mandel, "but we can have the car collection. Our options include selling economic development bonds and having a national membership for Friends of the Collection. Americans have always been car-crazy, and this collection shows the historical evolution of the automobile, from dead ends to break-throughs. Its value as a collection is as a collection. It should be saved. At this point I'd say our chances are fair to good."
THE FEEL FROM KHEEL
Baffled by the baseball strike? Are you wondering why the players and owners aren't sending out for sandwiches and negotiating around the clock? Is more happening than meets the eye? Listen to the insights of Theodore W. Kheel, a New York lawyer who specializes in labor negotiations, has mediated and arbitrated numerous disputes, and has advised both hired hands and tycoons, including the NFL owners. Kheel isn't involved in the baseball negotiations, but he recognizes some common themes.
"It's basically a very simple dispute," he says. "What's at issue isn't free agency or compensation, but how much compensation there should be. At present the dispute has entered the 'range of indeterminacy,' which means deciding what point in the range the compensation should fall in.
"Both sides are feeling each other out to determine how long each can hold out. That's why there's not much visible negotiating. The tactic is to show that you're not hurting, or that you're hurting less than the other guy. Any eagerness on either side to accept around-the-clock negotiations would be a sign of weakness.
"But even though they're not meeting, the chemistry is at work. I don't know what private conversations are going on, but I can just about guarantee that Marvin Miller and Ray Grebey are talking. You have to keep your lines of communication open. Usually more gets done privately than at the table.
"I'm not surprised that the dispute dragged on a year and a half before the strike. There wasn't much force being applied. When they went out, both sides had to let off some steam. But now the pressures to reach an agreement are tremendous; they're concerned about how much they are hurting themselves. I believe the pressures will produce an agreement within a reasonable amount of time. Say, one to four weeks."