Artcurial‘s Retromobile sale was a spectacular event in every sense of the word. When the hammer went down on the last lot, well after midnight, the sale in Paris had clocked up $19.5m, making it the largest ever sale of collector cars in France. This beat Artcurial’s own record set at the same event last year. The auction, which lasted some six and a half hours — not including the automobilia sale earlier in the day — attracted a record crowd with a large number of new bidders.
With some 115 motorcars and 25 motorcycles on offer, this sale had something for everyone. A feature of Artcurial Motorcars’ sales, many entries were new to the market, often with low mileage and long continuous ownership. French cars were strongly represented, as were American cars, but there were jewels from all the major marques. The common feature was that all these cars and motorcycles had been cherished, often in private collections, and were offered either in remarkably original condition or following sympathetic restorations. To add to the sense of occasion, the drive-through sale kicked off with some music hall entertainment and a chorus line of can-can dancers.
The star of the show, the 1936 Talbot-Lago T150C sold for $2m. The car has important racing history, including four appearances in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, and was raced in period by Pierre Levegh and Louis Rosier. It has also appeared more recently in historic racing, and remains eligible for all major international events today. After a tense and lengthy bidding battle in the room and on the telephone, the car eventually sold to a French collector.
Another prized car was the 1929 Duesenberg Model J Cabriolet Murphy, which fetched $1.4m. Presented in superb condition, this car has won Best of Show at Pebble Beach in the past, and it continued to attract the crowds on Artcurial Motorcars’ stand at Retromobile.
The 1962 Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet, offered in exceptionally original condition, having covered just 15,000 km from new, sold for $1.1m. With just two owners from new, the car has spent its life in Marseille and, according to the vendor, has never seen a drop of rain.
The collection of cars coming from Corsican singer Pierre Brignole fetched good prices, many above pre-sale estimates. The elegant 1935 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet Vanvooren sold for $785k, and the 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Ventoux, the 1936 Paris Motor Show demonstration car and the first 57C built, changed hands for $564k.
In introducing the two Bugatti in the sale belonging to Romano Artioli, the Italian entrepreneur who bought the Bugatti name in 1987 to launch the EB110 supercar, Hervé Poulain, the auctioneer, announced that the owner was in the saleroom. Mr. Artioli promptly stood up and waved to a loud round of applause. The 1995 Bugatti EB 110SS – the last model to be built, with just 14,000km from new and never registered, attracted multiple bids and sold for $601k. The 1936 Bugatti 57 Ventoux, owned by Artioli for over 10 years, sold above estimate for $540k.
The 1987 Ferrari Testarossa owned by French actor Alain Delon since 1989, made an incredible $230k. Delon had written a note in the service book, wishing the new owner as much pleasure at the wheel of the car as he had enjoyed.
Other highlights included a wonderfully restored 1971 Citroën SM coupé, offered at no reserve, which changed hands for $175k, and a fully restored 1958 Citroën 2CV découvrable that had belonged to the same family from new, with just 54,000 km on the clock, made $38k. The selection of 1950s American cars all found new French owners, including the show-stealing hot-rod creation, “Dreamsicle”. This 1956 Lincoln Premiere, custom-built by John D’Agostino’s Kustom Cars in California, was presented in “Tequila Sunrise” orange, and sold for $80k.
Highlight of the motorcycles on offer was a rare and sought-after 1974 Ducati 750 SS, which sold for $153k.
The automobilia sale shared in the success of the night, realising many high prices, including $85k for a circa-1926 child’s electric Bugatti Type 52, and $48k for a beautiful Bugatti wristwatch. Highlight of the mascots was a rare Lalique model “Comète” which fetched $72k.
Matthieu Lamoure, Managing Director of Artcurial Motorcars, commented after the sale: “The dedication and hard work of our team has produced another record result. The selection of outstanding vehicles on offer this year attracted an international clientèle that included many new buyers.”
Artcurial Motorcars’ next sale, “Automobiles Sur Les Champs V” which includes the André Lecoq Collection, will be in Paris on June 10, 2013.