Bonhams & Butterfields, the world’s third-largest fine arts auctioneers, were delighted with results of its inaugural Legends of the Motorcycle sale held May 5, 2007 at the second annual Legends of the Motorcycle International Concours d’Elegance in Half Moon Bay, CA. The auction brought $840,000 and featured a number of rare and distinguished motorcycles, with strong prices paid.
As founding sponsors of the event, Bonhams & Butterfields’ CEO Malcolm Barber echoes the glowing global accolades which followed the first concours held in 2006. He said, “The gorgeous setting, and the encouraging response from both well-established collectors and enthusiasts, as well as those newly acquiring an appreciation for vintage bikes, is significant. We’re noting the growing trend of motorcar collectors bidding on two-wheeled vehicles – enhancing their collections with examples of important bikes by celebrated makers.”
Saturday’s sale featured a pair of early 20th century bikes which tied as top sellers. An American collector living in England paid $93,600 for a 1914 Henderson 1,068cc four-cylinder bike, offered with no reserve, which sold above estimate. The powerful Henderson was first owned by a Scottish enthusiast who proudly took the bike with him when called up for military service during WWI. Also selling for $93,600 was a 1929 Indian-Crocker 45ci overhead-valve conversion, one of seven built and the only ever offered for public sale. Created by master bike-builder Gwen Banquer, the bike’s foundation is an Indian 101 Scout fitted with a Crocker conversion kit. It was acquired by a British private collector.
Bidding was highly competitive during the auction with clients from across the US – from Boston, Virginia, Colorado, Arizona and California — from as far as Australia, the Netherlands, Austria and the UK, among others, vying for lots.
A 1926 Excelsior Super X, a featured marque of the weekend’s events, retains its original factory applied paintwork. Its new owner, a California-based collector, paid $60,840 for the Super X while another collector paid $46,800 for a 1912 Indian Twin recently restored to “better than new” condition by an experienced Indian enthusiast. Other Indians sold above their estimates, a 1947 Indian Chief sold for $29,250 and a 1946 Indian Chief with sidecar brought $29,835.
A 1921 Clyno 925cc V-twin with sidecar described as outstanding sold for $31,005 while a 1958 Harley-Davidson 74ci FLH Dresser with outstanding history proved to be of interest to a legend of the motorcycling world. The bike, dubbed “Number One Playboy Dresser,” is a chrome-lover’s dream, customized in the Boston area shortly after it was first purchased. The bike received a trophy for “1st Place” in the Pan Head Division as well as the Chairman’s Silver Cup award at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum’s Classic American Motorcycle Day in 2006. Successfully bidding on this bike (sold for $ 32,175) was William G. Davidson, described by the Concours organizers as a man “born with gasoline in his veins.” Senior Vice President and Chief Styling Officer at Harley-Davidson, Inc., he’s designed some of the world’s most admired bikes. “Willie G.,” as he’s affectionately called, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Legend of the Motorcycle International Concours d’Elegance for 2007.
The Von Dutch circa 1964 Triumph 650cc TR6 sold for nearly twice its estimate, bringing $44,460 and a 1928 BMW R57 which placed in the top three within its class at last year’s concours, sold for $36,270.
The May 5th sale was held just a week after a successful annual offering of motorbikes by Bonhams at the Staffordshire County Showground in England – that April 29 sale having totaled nearly US$2.1-million and featuring a 1954 Vincent 998cc White Shadow Series-C which sold for US$163,065. Vintage bikes will take center stage this Fall at the annual Bonhams & Butterfields vintage bike sale at the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles and the auctioneers eagerly anticipate their sponsorship of the 2008 Legends of the Motorcycle Concours.
Upcoming auction information, illustrated online catalogs and Motoring dept information is available at www.bonhams.com.