Jay Leno sued over antique car

NEW YORK Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:20pm EDT

Talk show host Jay Leno talks to the crowd gathered to view the new cars that General Motors unveiled at the 2006. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Talk show host Jay Leno talks to the crowd gathered to view the new cars that General Motors unveiled at the 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The estate of a Macy's department store heir has sued U.S. comedian and car collector Jay Leno, saying a Manhattan garage stole the heir's 1931 Model J Duesenberg and illegally sold it to Leno in 2005.

Two antique cars owned by John Strauss -- the Duesenberg and a 1930 Rolls Royce -- were kept in Manhattan's Windsor Garage for 50 years until 2005, when the garage put them up for auction without Strauss's knowledge, according to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court.

The garage said it took possession of the cars because Strauss owed $29,000 in parking fees, the lawsuit says.

But the claim was a sham concocted to justify the sale of the vehicles, it says. The estate wants the cars returned and seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Leno purchased the Duesenberg, a custom-ordered town car. Someone else bought the Rolls Royce.

"Notwithstanding the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid by Strauss to the garage over the years, these vehicles were purportedly auctioned off to satisfy certain relatively trivial parking bills," the lawsuit says.

A spokesman for Leno declined to comment. Strauss, who suffered from dementia at the time, died this year, the lawsuit says.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Xavier Briand)

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