Last Thursday’s death of Marcel Biales, who founded the famed Sportmer powerboat dealership in St. Tropez, France, in 1962 and became Cigarette Racing Team’s first dealer seven years later, is a sad milestone in the 49-year history of the iconic high-performance V-bottom and center console company. Renowned for his charm and gentility—and privacy around his age—Biales reportedly died of natural causes.
Biales popularized the Cigarette Racing Team brand in Europe.
Through his longstanding French Riviera-based dealership, Biales to a great extent was responsible for popularizing the Cigarette brand among Europe’s rich and famous. Sportmer was the Opa-Locka, Fla.-based company’s most successful overseas dealer—so successful, in fact, that Cigarette Racing Team owner Skip Braver knew of Biales before he bought the company.
“Marcel was an icon for speed and luxury and everything that was cool in the world, especially in St. Tropez,” said Braver. “He was more of a gentleman than anyone I’ve have ever met in the industry—he was everything you think of when you think ‘old-time,’ classic France. He was a tough businessman. He went to work every day. He truly was an icon.
“He had a very good life,” he continued. “Until late last year he was at every major boat show and the way he treated his customers, many of them rich and famous, was legendary. He was just, well, Marcel, and losing him is the even bigger than man himself. It’s the passing of an era.”
A close friend of Cigarette Racing Team founder Don Aronow (right), Biales spent time with Aronow at the Cigarette Ranch.