Peter Max purchased a collection of 36 Chevrolet Corvettes in 1989 (one for every manufacture year up to the date) with the intention of using them in an art project. He planned to use this slice of American history as a tool to self-promote his work as an artist, painting the machines in lurid colors while staging them in various oddball scenarios only the most expressive of minds could envision. Peter never got around to making his artistic vision a reality. Instead, he left them in a New York City storage lot where they've been sitting and collecting dust for 25 years.
The story of how Max acquired the cars began in 1989, when music network VH1 held a contest to award a lucky viewer with a Corvette from every year of the model's existence, from 1953 to 1989. VH1 purchased the cars for $610,000, and made its money back by creating a 900 number and charging contestants $2.00 per phone call to enter. Placing just one call, Dennis Amodeo, a carpenter from Long Island, won the prize. Shortly after receiving his army of Corvettes, Amodeo received a call from Max who had seen the collection at an auto show in 1990. Max stated that he wished to purchase the cars, and at a meet in New York City, the two hashed out a deal that reportedly included $250,000 in cash, $250,000 worth of Max's artwork and an agreement that if Max ever sold the cars, Amodeo would receive a portion of the proceeds, up to $1 million.
No one really knows why Max never executed his plan for the Corvette collection, since he's never commented on that particular quandary. In 2010, he talked about adding 14 more years of vehicles to bring the tally up to an even 50, but that didn't happen either. Perhaps it was the sheer amount of work that was required after the artist had let the cars sit for so long; some of the cars would cost more to restore than the vehicle's worth, and time was reportedly unkind to most of the 'Vettes in the group - two-thirds of which sport the less-sought-after automatic transmission with 14 of the cars convertibles; none feature the prized big-block V-8.
Luckily, the cars are now in the loving hands of someone who plans on restoring all the 'Vettes to their former glory and ready for the road. Max approached Peter Heller about relocating the cars to a new storage garage, but Heller offered to buy the Corvettes from him instead. Max agreed, but it is unknown if Amodeo will see any of the proceeds. Heller discovered that some of the Corvettes could be show-ready with relatively basic restoration, and he plans to have even the most decrepit vehicles brought back to life.