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Bobby Haas Built a Unique Motorcycle Collection, Served As a Patron to Custom Builders
Dallas financier, photographer, and custom motorcycle benefactor and patron Robert ‘Bobby’ Haas has passed away at the age of 74, and his impact on the world of custom cycles will be felt for generations.

Bobby Haas Built a Unique Motorcycle Collection, Served As a Patron to Custom Builders

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Haas, the creator and curator of the Haas Moto Museum & Sculpture Gallery in the Design District of Dallas, put together a collection of 230-plus rare classic and custom motorcycles.

Haas made a fortune on soft drinks in the 1980s, found a calling during the 2000s as a National Geographic photographer famed for his aerial images, and then discovered his true calling in 2011 - when he bought his first motorcycle at the age of 64. Haas said the collection represented his “last professional arc.”

In what may seem a strange statement from a man of immense wealth, Haas wasn’t into motorcycles for the money.

“What I love about the motorcycle industry is nobody is in it for the money. With the investment business, you’re pursuing money in a way that is beneficial only to yourself. If you make a lot of money and you give it away, well, that’s different. Then you’re being charitable. But inherently, there’s nothing except selfish motives behind it,” he told Dmagazine.com. “Here, whether you’re talking about the designers, the mechanics, the guys who have shops—these guys don’t make a lot of money,” Haas said. “But if you ask them whether they’re happy, they all say yes. The motives are basically to share what you create. This museum is something that I really wanted for the city of Dallas. Dallas has been good to me, and I love this town. I’ll be here until they take the boots off of me.”

Now that the boots are off, Haas’ passing will be deeply felt among those he knew in the world of custom motorcycles.

“I haven’t ridden any bike in here. To me, these are artistic pieces. I wouldn’t use a painting to cut a sandwich on,” Haas said of his collection.

One of his most prized bikes, an example of George Roy’s Majestic, came with the kind of story he loved about motorcycles and the people who make them and love them.

A friend of his in France offered him his father’s motorcycle that his friend and his father had hoped to restore together. The rusty pieces of the bike were ultimately stored in crates in Normandy, France, where they sat for 12 or 15 years. Haas’ friend said the museum was a place he’d be happy putting the motorcycle, so he restored it piece by piece over the course of four months before presenting it to Haas for the collection.

“It’s one of the most stunning motorcycles in the world now. It has great meaning to me because this is his family legacy, and he wanted it in my hands. So I think I’m the only museum in the world with one of each,” Haas says of his friend’s Majestic. “I’ve bought over 150 bikes and I’ve sold zero,” Haas says of the collection in his showroom. “One of the things that appeals to me about these is the fact that I went from being a businessman with no background in motorcycles. I buy a few motorcycles. I start riding a motorcycle, and I’m just hooked by the passion of the industry. I think that happened to Georges Roy. The difference with Georges Roy is he got out of it because he was looking for commercial success. I’m looking more for artistic success.”

The museum and the connections he made with custom builders led him to commission a startling set of custom bikes from some of the most daring builders at work today.

And in keeping with his feeling for motorcycles as art and custom builders as artists, Haas recently decided he would bequeath the motorcycles he had commissioned back to their builders. As he told them in a scene captured in “Leaving Tracks,” a documentary recently completed about his odyssey, he said he wanted to return them - “the children of your souls.”



 
 
 
 
 

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