Receiver for million-dollar Corvette affirmed but bond required

Long-running litigation over the fate of a legendary Corvette racecar appears slightly closer to the finish line, as an appeals court Thursday gave the green flag to a receivership appointed to sell the car. However, the appellate panel instructed the trial court to require the receiver be bonded as required by law.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the Porter Superior Court order appointing a receiver to settle debts and legal obligations among the car’s co-owners in Gino Burelli v. Larry Martin and Kevin Mackay, 19A-MI-136.

At issue in the case is the fabled 1960 Briggs Cunningham Corvette #1 said to be worth millions of dollars. The iconic car was one of three of the first Corvette racers to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. Its whereabouts were a mystery until the car was discovered in 2012 and purchased by Corvette restorer Kevin Mackay.

Briggs Cunningham stands beside 1960 Corvette No. 1 , one of three that debuted the Chevrolet sports car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. (Photo courtesy of www.briggscunningham.com)

But an ownership dispute arose, leading a federal judge in Pennsylvania to find Gino Burelli, owner of Harbor Buick GMC in Portage, and Dominico Idoni each with a 35 percent ownership share, and Mackay owning the remaining 30 percent. Idoni sold his share of the car to Burelli for $250,000, so now Burelli claims 70 percent ownership and also has physical possession of the car.

Subsequently, the car has been mired in litigation. Multiple parties claim interests in it, including a 2009 judgment against Idoni. Lien-holder Larry Martin claims Idoni now owes about $430,000 on that judgment.

The interests on potential claimants against the car were outlined in an earlier Court of Appeals decision that remanded the case to Porter Superior Court, Larry Martin v. Gino Burelli (mem. dec.), 18A-MI-25. That case also noted the car could become subject to a replevin action filed by NextGear Capital that seeks more than $1.3 million on loan documents that Burelli personally guaranteed. That matter is pending in Hamilton Superior Court.

In the instant litigation, Mackay and Martin sought and obtained a court-ordered receiver to sell the car, which the COA affirmed Thursday, with a slight modification.

“At the December 2018 hearing, the trial court acknowledged that ‘the receiver, under the receiver statute …, has an obligation to sign an oath and the receiver has an obligation to post a surety as to the value of the car. … So Mr. Burelli’s interest is going to be protected to the extent of the bond and so are Mr. Mackay[’s] and Mr. Martin[’s],’” Judge Margret Robb wrote for the panel. “And yet the trial court did not order the receiver to post a bond; rather, it ordered the receiver to obtain insurance on the Corvette. However, the two are not interchangeable.

“…Indiana Code section 32-30-5-3 requires the receiver’s oath to be secured by a bond, and therefore, the trial court erred in failing to require a bond here. We reverse the trial court’s order appointing a receiver insofar as it does not require a bond and remand for the trial court to amend its order to require the receiver to post an appropriate bond to secure his oath to faithfully discharge his duties. We express no opinion as to the appropriate amount for the bond,” the panel concluded.

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