RM and Sotheby’s Offer a Century of Automotive History and Design in New York City


Excitement is mounting for RM Auctions and Sotheby’s Art of the Automobile sale and exhibition, November 18–21, at Sotheby’s New York. This will be the first major collector car auction to be held in Manhattan in over a decade. The sale will lift the gavel on an elite roster of 34 of the world’s finest vehicles, 18 of which are expected to garner in excess of $1 million. The catalogue spans over a century of automotive design, from a Brewster-built Vanderbilt family carriage to a modern, one-off Bugatti Veyron supercar, and celebrates the automobile as a singular achievement at the crossroads of art, technology, and innovation.

“The selection of motor cars in our New York auction has been curated with the intention of celebrating the greatest milestones in automotive history,” says Alain Squindo, Vice President, RM Auctions. “Every automobile was chosen for its rarity, significance to design, engineering, and for the outstanding achievement it represents in its respective category. As such, and within Sotheby’s stunning 10th floor galleries, we are drawing our record-setting year to a close by presenting the motor car as an art form all its own.”

Adding to a stellar list of previously announced entries, including the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, which is expected to fetch more than $12 million, are three additional rare 250-series Ferraris. The group is led by a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB “Competition” Berlinetta Speciale, chassis 1739GT, which marries bespoke Bertone coachwork with the heart of a racing Ferrari, pulled directly from the company’s competition department. Its incredibly unique and forward-thinking design, commissioned by Ferrari client Doctor Enrico Wax, introduced a number of styling features that would one day become standard for the marque. The short-wheelbase Berlinetta is joined by a one-off 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupé, chassis 0407GT, featuring Pinin Farina’s iconic and timeless 1950s Ferrari “look” (RM Estimate $2,250,000–$2,750,000); and an extremely rare and authentically restored 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II, chassis 2473, the only covered-headlamp example certified by the factory as having been built new in that configuration (Estimate $1,600,000–$2,000,000). The height of Italian automotive style is also represented by the 1955 Maserati A6G/2000 Spyder, chassis 2101. This breathtaking example is clothed in one-off coachwork by Zagato (Estimate: $3,500,000–$4,500,000).

The November sale also showcases the best of American automotive design. Among recently secured entries in this category is an award-winning 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Beverly, engine J-512. Spectacularly restored, J-512 is the only factory-supercharged Beverly built (Estimate: $2,000,000–$2,500,000). Another highlight slated for the New York auction podium is an example of the car that invented American performance: a 1912 Stutz Model A Bear Cat, chassis A730. Promoted by Stutz as boasting the same material, workmanship, and design as their racing model that stirred up so much excitement on the track, A730 is presented for auction following a no-expense-spared, frame-off restoration. Its offering represents the first time in many years an early Bear Cat has been available, and it is the first time that this particular example has been offered for public sale (Estimate: $800,000–$1,200,000).

In addition to design, the sale will also celebrate cultural history, with a strong focus on New York society to match the event’s Manhattan setting. In addition to the one-off 1941 Cadillac Custom Limousine “The Duchess,” which was built for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for use during their periods of residence in New York, and the 1956 Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk II “Supersonic,” which was gifted by New Yorker Richard Cowell to his wife Gail Vanderbilt Whitney, Art of the Automobile will also feature a 1892 Brewster Park Drag. This Park Drag, owned by Hamilton McKown Twombly and railroad heiress Florence Adele Vanderbilt, who made their home on Fifth Avenue, was used at their spectacular Morristown, New Jersey, “cottage,” known as Florham. This Brewster carriage is finished in the color of the House of Vanderbilt, described as “a dash of burgundy mixed with plum,” and represents an evocative part of New York social history (Estimate: $225,000–$325,000).

“For us at Sotheby’s, these cars are ‘moving sculpture’,” adds Leslie Keno, Senior Specialist, Sotheby’s. “The same criteria and principles that we use to evaluate works of art – line, proportion, design, originality and provenance, apply to cars. It is clear that this outstanding group represents the pinnacle of automotive production over the past 100 years, from the world’s most admired marques. We look forward to welcoming collectors to our 10th floor galleries to view these remarkable feats of design and engineering.”

Additional best of category automobiles secured for the sale include:

·         a 1936 Delahaye Type 135 Competition Court Teardrop Coupé by Figoni et Falaschi, chassis 47242, which is a combination of the best in 1930s competition engineering and a masterpiece of the “French curve” (Estimate: $3,000,000–$4,000,000);

·         a bespoke 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sports Coupé, chassis 42PY, which showcases the earliest execution of the “razor edge” design and is arguably the most beautiful Rolls-Royce of the period (Estimate: $2,000,000–$2,800,000);

·         an 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, chassis 198.040.5500695, which was originally delivered through the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed showrooms of Max Hoffman on Park Avenue and is finished in the rare original color scheme of Light Green Metallic with red leather upholstery (Estimate: $1,300,000–$1,500,000);

·         a 1958 BMW 507 Series II Roadster, chassis 70180, which is one of very few originally built and is outfitted with a rare factory hardtop (Estimate: $1,000,000–$1,400,000);

·         the award-winning 1929 Ford “Dick Flint” Roadster, which is one of the most important of all surviving vintage hot rods, and is a Pebble Beach award winner and former Hot Rod Magazine cover car (Estimate: $700,000–$900,000); and

·         a beautifully restored 1932 Ford V-8 Cabriolet, which features unique custom coachwork by Italian firm Pinin Farina and demonstrates the influence of European styling on American design (Estimate: $350,000–$500,000).

Beyond the motor cars, the sale will also lift the gavel on a select range of memorabilia as well as such rarities as a spectacularly restored 1914 Flying Merkel Model 471, America’s original “superbike” (Estimate: $200,000–$250,000); a world champion 1957 F.B. Mondial 250 Bialbero Grand Prix, one of the most historically significant Italian race bikes of the Modern Era (Estimate: $125,000–$175,000); and a 1960 F.M.R. Tg 500 “Tiger,” the most desirable and fastest “Messerschmitt,” which embodies the concept of the automobile reimagined following World War II (Estimate: $150,000–$225,000).

Full event details, including the digital catalogue, are available online at www.rmauctions.com and www.sothebys.com or by calling toll free at 1 800 211 4371 (+1 519 352 4575 outside North America). As a prelude to the sale, an exhibition showcasing all 34 vehicles on offer will be held November 18–20 on the 10th floor galleries at Sotheby’s New York—a setting customarily reserved for the display of world-class works of art offered at Sotheby’s.

RM Auctions and Sotheby’s Art of the Automobile – Event Details

Sale date: November 21; auction commences at 2:00 p.m. EST

Exhibition dates: November 18–20; from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST daily

Location: Sotheby’s New York, 1334 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021

Admission: Admission to the exhibition is open to the general public. Admission to the auction is limited to registered bidders, consignors, and qualified media only.

For those unable to attend the event in person, Internet, absentee, and phone bidding options are available, and the auction will stream live at www.rmauctions.com to provide real-time coverage of the sale.

Tony Piff

SCM Auctions Editor and Photographer

Tony has long trumpeted the virtues of collecting Japanese cars. His daily driver is a 1970 Toyota Hilux — the one with the turn signals on top of the fenders. His popular “Rising Sun” column keeps a pulse on the J-tin market.

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