Motorized recliner made famous by DWI incident sold for just over $10,000
PROCTOR -- The auction ended at 7:12 p.m. Thursday, and $10,099.99 emerged as the winning bid for a motorized recliner.
Proctor Police Chief Walter Wobig had no quarrel with the price to be paid for a vehicle his department seized after the drunken-driving conviction of its owner and operator, Dennis LeRoy Anderson.
"We've had this vehicle in holding since Aug. 31, 2008, and if you would have told me then that it would sell for more than $10,000, I would have said you were nuts," Wobig said.
Anderson, too, was pleasantly surprised by the response, saying: "I figured it was probably worth two or three grand at most."
This was the chair's second appearance on eBay. It was initially listed as a La-Z-Boy. But this false claim was flagged by the staid manufacturer of more pedestrian furniture. When informed of the improper label attached to the item, eBay pulled the chair from auction Monday. At that time, the top bid for the motorized recliner sat at more than $43,000.
"Maybe that's the power of the La-Z-Boy name," Wobig joked.
But, more likely, the story of Anderson's conviction and oddly directed ingenuity had begun to run the final leg of its course in the international news cycle.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that every branch of media would pick up on this story," Wobig said. "I've received thousands of e-mails on this case, and we've been contacted by press from Japan, France, Germany and the British Times. This morning, I was on KROQ radio in L.A."
Wobig stands behind the decision to arrest Anderson for driving his chair to a Proctor bar and then operating it with a blood-alcohol content of 0.29 percent -- more than three times the legal limit. Anderson was so inebriated he drove his chair into a parked car, prompting a police response.
"I said we can't treat this guy differently than anyone else we arrest on a DWI," Wobig recalled.
The chair, which is powered by a lawnmower engine, features running lights, a stereo, a rear-view mirror, a magazine rack and a beverage holder, of course.
Wobig said he doesn't yet know the identity of the winning bidder or the final destination of the chair. The top bidder has 48 hours to put $2,000 on the chair and seven days to make full payment before it is shipped.
Anderson he already has drawn up plans for his next lounge-mobile, and it incorporates a love seat and a snowmobile undercarriage.
"I'll have it ready to rock and roll at Brainerd next year," said Anderson referring to an annual parade of oddball vehicles at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway. "You've got to have some fun."