Steven Kessler knows luxury vehicles. His NYC showroom was featured in 1992’s Scent of a Woman, and Al Pacino “blindly” drove his Ferrari in the movie. We spoke to the industry vet and owner of the Kessler Auto Group in North Miami Beach who dished to us about his speed-happy celebrity clientele.
Can you tell us about your most interesting celebrity encounter?
When John Belushi came to pick up the car with his wife, Judy, it was purely by accident. He was so rich, he didn’t care about the way he spent money. And he was reckless, too. My dealership was on 34th Street, and you could either make a left or a right. Belushi just ran his car straight into the building!
Anyone look and not buy?
Donald Trump came in and said, ‘You’re doing a great job selling expensive cars to wealthy guys,’ and I replied, ‘You’re the one doing great, constructing all these buildings and selling them to millions of people! All I’m doing is selling cars.’ He was interested in purchasing a Ferrari. I had to decline his offer.
Kathleen Turner. She bought a Maserati Quattroporte.
Any odd experiences stand out over the years?
After Mike Tyson became heavyweight champion of the world, I saw a big black limousine pull up in front. Tyson steps out. As he walked around, the windows began to fill with onlookers. He pauses in front of a brand new Ferrari, a 1987 Mondial Cabriolet, for $150,000. Mike turns to me and counteroffers me $140,000. I said, “I’ll throw in the best electronics money can buy,” and that seemed to take the edge off. Mike tells me he’s going to pay me with a credit card, and the name says Don King. As I look at Mike, he says, ‘No worries, it’s good.’ But the interest rate on the AMEX cards were 4%, which would have been an additional $6,000 to me. I ask Mike to exchange the card for a bank check, and he goes into my office to use the phone. He comes out to get me and says. ‘Here, he wants to talk to you.’ The voice on the other side says, ‘It’s Don King...You have a big pair of b---s, Kessler. Let’s meet and do more business.’ The deal was made.