He turned his earnings into houses, married, and began a family. He took time off to live in Europe, buying a farmhouse in Spain and spending two years studying art in Florence, Italy.
That’s where he fell in love with Italian motorcycles.
“I decided I needed three or four different bikes, because they were good for different kinds of riding,” he said. “But when I had 10, I decided to let myself go up to 20. Then I went up to 30.”
Webster filled two garages with his motorcycles, eventually, he built a two-story barn. The collection grew to 150 as Webster bought, sold and traded increasingly rare machines.
Retired wine entrepreneur Robb Talbott, who now operates the Moto Talbott Collection motorcycle museum in Carmel Valley, said he became faint when he first visited Webster’s collection in 2003.
“There is no other museum that could have come close to it, for the quality, the artistic value of the bikes, and the rarity of the bikes,” Talbott said.“Some of them are one of only one in the world, or one of three in the world. In America, he was No. 1.”
The famed collection is headed to auction though, in the next four days starting today, at events held in Las Vegas, eight of Webster’s finest will cross the block.
Bonhams will sell a 1988 Ducati Corsa race bike that may fetch $34,000, and a 2000 Ducati MH900E that may sell for $24,000, the auction house said. (A 1959 Ducati 175 F3 it sold in 2015 brought $89,000.)
The six motorcycles to be sold by Mecum are a rare Ducati, two Ceccatos, a pair of FB Mondials and three MV Agustas — including the first 175cc Webster bought in 1959 for $300.
The motorcycles could together return as much as $500,000. But Webster claimed indifference to those figures.