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Rare Car Taken in 2001 Heist Parked by Court Fight

The Drive logoThe Drive 8/8/2018 Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech
© Don Kelson / Contributor Getty Images

Two parties are making claims to a rare $7 million French sports car which was stolen from a Milwaukee factory more than 15 years ago. The vehicle was exported to Europe and now remains seized by an East Coast business after returning to the United States.

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In 2001, the Monarch Plastic Products factory in Milwaukee was broken into and a valuable disassembled car was stolen. The car was a 1938 Talbot Lago T150 C teardrop coupe. Less than two dozen of these finely crafted vehicles were made and in recent years have become greatly sought after by collectors, according to theJournal Sentinel.

Roy Leiske, the owner of the car before it was stolen in 2001, had obtained the car in 1967 and since then had been attempting to restore it.

Authorities had opened an investigation regarding the theft of the car, but unfortunately were unable to find it by the time Leiske died in 2005.

Leiske's cousin, Richard Mueller, inherited his entire estate after his death, which included the missing Talbot Lago. Mueller later came into contact with a Joseph L. Ford III, who agreed to help Mueller try and recover the stolen car.

Years later the two discovered that the car was sold to a wealthy collector, TL90108, LLC, who purchased it for roughly $7 million from a European broker in 2015. Mueller and Ford demanded the car from the buyer, who did not comply.

In early 2017, Mueller and Ford decided to sue TL90108, LLC for the return of the vehicle.

The Milwaukee County Circuit Court had ruled that the claim made by Mueller and Ford was too late, due to a six-year statute of limitations, and initially dismissed the case. But this decision was later reversed after an appeal was made.

Since the statute in question states that the six-year deadline at either the time of theft or the beginning of the property's wrongful detention, Ford argued to the Court that wrongful detention began as soon as TL90108, LLC refused to relinquish the vehicle.

Although TL90108, LLC was not involved in the theft of the car in 2001, once it was made aware of the theft, refusal to return the car to Mueller and Ford qualified as a wrongful detention, the Court of Appeals decided.

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