Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg says vintage car restorer stole $125,000 from him
FILE - Max Weinberg plays the drums, left, while Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform during The River Tour on Sept. 7, 2016, in Philadelphia. Weinberg is suing the owners of a Florida car restoration company, saying they stole $125,000 by falsely promising they could deliver a like-new 1957 Mercedes-Benz he could display at top-level shows and then using his money for personal expenses. (Elizabeth Robertson/Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Terry Spencer, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, November 28, 2023 5:48PM EST
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Bruce Springsteen's drummer, Max Weinberg, is suing the owners of a Florida car restoration company, saying they stole $125,000 by falsely promising him a like-new 1957 Mercedes-Benz and then using his money for personal expenses.
Weinberg is seeking $375,000 from Arthur Siegle, members of his family and their Investment Automotive Group Inc. in a lawsuit filed Sunday in Palm Beach County. The Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadster they claimed they could deliver had significant damage and rust, and they knew it could not be restored to like-new condition when they took Weinberg's $125,000 deposit almost three years ago, according to the lawsuit.
A subsequent law enforcement investigation concluded that the Siegles used little or no money from Weinberg's deposit on restoring the car, but instead paid off credit cards and made deposits to personal accounts. No criminal charges have been filed.
“I guess they figured he's Max Weinberg, million-dollar drummer for Bruce Springsteen, Mighty Max. He can afford to lose $125,000,” Weinberg's attorney, Valentin Rodriguez, said Tuesday.
Siegle “thought he could pull the wool over the eyes of someone who is pretty well-known and wealthy, but Max wasn't just going to sit down and take it,” Rodriguez said. He said Weinberg is not an expert on vintage cars but has just always wanted to own one.
Peter Weintraub, the Siegles' attorney, did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Weinberg, 72, is the longtime drummer in Springsteen's E Street Band and led Conan O'Brien's band when he hosted “Late Night” and “The Tonight Show.” The musician currently tours with his own show, Max Weinberg's Jukebox. He is suing under a Florida law that allows triple damages for intentional theft.
According to the lawsuit, Weinberg says that in April 2021, he contacted Siegle and his son, Stuart Siegle, about a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL he understood they were restoring. The 190SL is a convertible manufactured from 1955 to 1963.
Weinberg says he told the Siegles he wanted a Mercedes he could enter at Concours-level shows, which feature cars that have been restored to like-new or better condition using almost entirely original parts. The Siegles assured him the 190SL they were restoring would meet that standard and would be a “work of art” and “best of the best,” he says.
He paid them $125,000, a down payment on the $225,000 sale price. The balance would be paid when the car was finished.
Within weeks, Weinberg became worried about the car and hired an expert to inspect it at the Siegles' shop. The expert, Pierre Hedary, found significant rust, welds that had been improperly made, evidence that the car had been in accident and several other major problems. He said the car wasn't even a 1957 as the Siegles claimed, but a 1956.
In a report filed with the lawsuit, Hedary wrote that when restored, the car could be driven and impress laypeople but would not pass scrutiny at top-level car shows. He estimated its restored worth at $120,000, about half what the Siegles claimed.
He said the Siegles' statements that the car would be a “work of art” and “best of the best” are often “the most egregious form of puffery unfortunately at times demonstrated throughout the classic/vintage motorcar industry.”
When the Siegles refused to refund Weinberg's money, he filed a complaint with the Broward Sheriff's Office.
In a 2022 report filed with the lawsuit, Detective Scott Schaefer wrote that his investigation showed that after receiving Weinberg's money, the Siegles deposited nearly all of it into personal accounts with almost $50,000 covering credit card and other personal payments.
“I did not find any transactions that could have been attributed to the work being done on (Weinberg's) vehicle,” Schaefer wrote.
He said it is possible they paid cash for parts, but he saw no evidence of that.
Schaefer wrote that when he confronted Arthur Siegle with Weinberg's accusations, he responded, “I have no idea what this guy is complaining about nor do I really care.”
Schaefer recommended that Arthur Siegle be charged with grand theft. The Broward State Attorney's Office said Tuesday the case remains under review.