22 Exotic Cars Seized From Fugitive Bikram Yoga Founder Head to Auction
The collection includes a Ford GT40, five Bentleys, and a dozen Rolls-Royces.
Bikram Choudhury was once a celebrity yoga instructor who took the world by storm. His unorthodox approach to the discipline earned him certain notoriety that also made him rich—rich enough to afford dozens of vintage and high-end sports cars. But Bikram's success would soon come to a screeching halt after the disgraced yogi fled the United States over allegations of rape, sexual assault, harassment, and a host of other charges.
In January 2016, a jury awarded Choudhury's Head of Legal and International Affairs, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, $7.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages on the grounds that she was "abruptly and unlawfully terminated" after she began to investigate Bikram's conduct against women and minorities. Four months later, Choudhury left the United States and opened a number of yoga studios in India, refusing to defend himself in person at a number of other pending court cases. One year later, a Los Angeles judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
Authorities recently confirmed to the New York Post that they quietly seized 22 cars from a Miami sheriff's sale after being removed from a warehouse belonging to Choudhury in December 2019. The yogi had allegedly enlisted the help of a businesswoman to stash the cars in the warehouse after he left the country in 2016, reportedly to keep the collection from being seized to pay one of his victims an awarded $6.4 million judgment.
The collection consists of a dozen Rolls-Royces (including a 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III), five Bentleys, a 1971 Pontiac Lemans, a 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1, a Ford GT40, and several other cars. A number of vehicles belonging to Choudhury are reportedly still hidden from the public eye, including at least three Ferraris and six Mercedes-Benzs. A lawsuit filed against Choudhury's wife and children by Jafa-Bodden's lawyer suggests that the other vehicles could be somewhere in Nevada or Florida.
Choudhury's vehicles will be sent to auction at Palm Beach International Raceway on March 20 and March 21, though the money generated from the sales will likely never reach his victims. With more than $16 million in legal judgments, Choudhury filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2017.
“The projected revenue generated from the car sales will nowhere be enough to satisfy the creditors,” said bankruptcy trustee Robbin Itkin. She later added, “Anything we can do to try to give something back to the people who are owed money is better than the situation where we are now.”
The hypothetical value of the seized cars, which is estimated to range somewhere between $800,000 and $1.5 million, will likely go straight into the hands of Choudhury's creditors to settle outstanding debt. According to the Post, Choudhury owes the Miami warehouse owner $600,000 in unpaid storage bills, lawyers' fees, and other costs.
In total, nine women have accused Choudhury of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment since 2013. Coined "Yoga's bad boy,” he has since re-entered the hot seat after the release of a new documentary on Netflix titled Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator. The film follows the history of the controversial Bikram Yoga saga and outlines the serious allegations that seem a better fit for fiction than reality.
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