“Out of Africa” Plane Returns to its Spiritual Home After $17.4m Bonhams Sale


The airplane featured in the seven-time Oscar-winning 1985 film Out of Africa is on its way back to the country nearly three decades later, after finding a new home in Kenya at the Bonhams auction at the Grand Palais in Paris, France, on February 7.

The 1929 American Moth Corporation De Havilland 60GMW Gipsy Moth bi-plane featured in the Sydney Pollack-directed movie starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford sold for $269k to an anonymous telephone bidder at the auction, held during the capital’s Rétromobile week. The sale set a new world record for a Gipsy Moth.

Bonhams’ second visit to the historic automotive venue, following a spectacular first sale in 2011, realized just short of $17.4m from 86 motor cars, 84 motorcycles and more than 100 lots of automobilia.

In the motor car section the top lots were a 1929 Bentley 6½-liter Speed Six Tourer that beat its pre-sale estimate to realize $1.1m, a 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Vantage cabriolet that more than doubled its estimate at $1.08m, and the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Coupé that was formerly owned by Ettore Bugatti himself sold for $924k.

Meanwhile the collection of former architect Charles H. Brown realized over $1.6m, with the top-selling lot, a 1931 Bentley 8-liter Sports tourer, selling at $647k. Outside the collection, a 1928 Rolls-Royce “Playboy Roadster” that was formerly in the collection of self-made multi-millionaire commercial real estate developer Jerry J. Moore realized $385k.

In the motorcycle section, two headline collections realized a combined total of almost $803k. Top-selling lot in the Garelli Grand Prix Collection was a 1926 Garelli 348-cc racing motorcycle at $40k, while a 1917 Indian 7-hp Powerplus led the way among the bikes of the late Claude Lesellier, selling for $38k.

Top motorcycle lots were a 1968 Egli-Vincent 998-cc racing motorcycle at $54k, a 1952 Vincent 998cc Series-C Rapide at $51k, and a c.1941 Zündapp KS750 “Sahara” Motorcycle Combination at $48k.

Immediately after the auction, a 1925 Coventry-Eagle 980-cc Flying-8 Sidevalve sold for $54k.

On the automobilia side, a fine cased picnic set for six persons by G.W. Scott & Sons, c.1910, was the top lot at $32k. Meanwhile, one of only five 1:8 scale models of a Bugatti Type 57S “rolling chassis” constructed by master craftsman Jean-Paul Fontenelle sold for $17k, and a Bugatti radiator realized $8k.

For the first time, the Motoring team was joined by the 20th Century Decorative Arts department, which held a separate sale at the venue. Top-selling lot was a c.1910 gilt-bronze figural lamp cast as the famous performer Loïe Fuller by François-Raoul Larche (1860-1912), which realized $49k.

Philip Kantor, Head of the Mainland European Motoring department, said, “We are delighted to have returned to the Grand Palais, the spiritual home of not only motor cars but also aeroplanes in the center of Paris.

“Following a 1,200-person reception the night before, bidders turned up in large numbers for a marathon 11-hour sale, resulting in 80% of lots sold across the board.”

James Knight, Group Motoring Director, added, “The global motoring department has enjoyed a stellar start to the year. The highly successful Paris auction follows on from the success that the U.S. division recently achieved in Las Vegas (Motorcycles) and Scottsdale (Motor Cars). Yet again motor cars were sourced for the Paris Sale from teams on both sides of the Atlantic, demonstrating a global approach to our blue-ribbon sales.”


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