The police auction of a souped-up motorized recliner, confiscated because the owner was drunk, is back on track, now that the La-Z-Boy company’s concerns have been satisfied.
The Aug. 31, 2008 bust of the extremely drunk driver after he crashed outside a bar in Proctor, Minn., and the su
bsequent auction of the customized lounge chair, have attracted international media attention and drove eBay bidding for the chair past $40,000.
But then the bidding was briefly put in park Monday and had to start all over again Tuesday.
Proctor police were 11 hours shy of ending its five-day auction when the ad was suddenly yanked, apparently because it was referred to as a La-Z-Boy chair, and it’s not. And that didn’t sit with the folks at La-Z-Boy, who faxed a complaint to the police chief about the use of the trademarked name and apparently filed a complaint with eBay.
Strictly speaking, the controversial chair is a motorized recliner, powered by a lawn mower engine, and equipped with a stereo, cup holders and lights. But Proctor Police Chief Walter Wobig said he took his cue in describing the brand of chair from the deluge of media stories and headlines that referred to it as a La-Z-Boy.
After receiving the faxed scolding from La-Z-Boy on Monday morning, Wobig said he called the company and had a congenial discussion. The company representative told the chief to just make sure the eventual buyer doesn’t continue referring to it as a La-Z-Boy chair. “And good luck with the sale,” he said, according to Wobig.
But all went afoul by nightfall when the chief noticed the chair auction was off the Web site. Earlier in the day, Wobig said he tried to e-mail and call the folks at eBay but said there was no way to do that.
So on Tuesday, he reposted the listing without the trademark name, begin the bidding at $500 once again and hope bidders will drive the price to former heights.
In reposting the ad, which should be listed on eBay today, Wobig said he added a few tweaks in answer to some of the thousands of e-mails and calls he got from the original listing. For example, there is no warranty, Wobig said.
Wobig said he is noting that it’s a chair with a “transmission that needs work.”
“It’s a bit sloppy,” he said. “Sometimes it jerks and sometimes it just takes a while to get in gear.”
The chair is not the only item from the storied incident to hit the auction block. An autographed photo of the former owner, Dennis Anderson, sitting in his chair, fetched $710 on eBay. Anderson’s family and friends said the money will be used to help pay legal fines and legal fees after he crashed his recliner into a parked car while driving drunk.
Anderson, 61, of Proctor, pleaded guilty Oct. 19 to hopping on the chair that summer night after visiting a bar in town, then crashing into a car in the parking lot. Anderson’s blood-alcohol content was 0.29 percent, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
The “It’s-Not-a-La-Z-Boy” chair had drawn 49 bids on eBay as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, with an offer of $6,300 leading the way.