RM Auctions in association with Sotheby’s lifted the gavel on the renowned Milhous Collection during a two-day sale this week in Boca Raton, Florida, generating over $38.3 million in sales with an impressive 100% of all lots sold.
The result of over 50 years of dedicated collecting by brothers Bob & Paul Milhous, the sale presented a range of exceptionally rare mechanical musical instruments, automobiles and collectibles before a packed house. Bidders represented 18 countries from around the world, including as far away as China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
Strong prices were recorded across all categories in the sale with contests between multiple bidders and prices frequently exceeding their estimates. The highest price of the multi-day sale went to a Pebble Beach class winning 1912 Oldsmobile Limited Five-Passenger Touring, chassis number 64626. The only known surviving example from that year and featuring one-off coachwork, the Oldsmobile attracted fierce bidding, realizing a final sales price of $3,300,000 to set a new world record for an Oldsmobile sold at auction
“We’re thrilled with the results from the Milhous Collection sale,” says Rob Myers, Chairman and Founder, RM Auctions. “The incredible quality and presentation of the collection captured the attention of the global collector world, resulting in lively bidding and setting numerous records. Never before has such a wonderful series of automobiles, mechanical musical instruments and collectibles been offered to the public in one location. In terms of its diversity, international interest and results, it set a new benchmark for this type of private collection sale.”
David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman adds, “The extraordinary success of this collection is a testament to the vision of Bob and Paul Milhous. From mechanical musical instruments to antique firearms, motor cars to clocks, petroliana to the 46-foot carousel, each item was selected as one of the finest of its type. Interest came from around the world with clients reacting with enormous enthusiasm to the chance to own a part of the magical world of Milhous.”
Headlining the sale was an impressive series of automobiles, spanning the spectrum of the collector car market from high-horsepower Brass era cars to a superb roster of coachbuilt classics and historically-significant Indianapolis racing cars. Each representing ‘best of category’ examples, the automobile offering spurred spirited bidding in the room, on the telephones and over the Internet, with numerous lots exceeding pre-sale estimates. In addition to the sale-topping Oldsmobile, a flawless 1939 Lagonda V-12 Rapide Sports Roadster, delivered new to actor Robert Montgomery, more than doubled its pre-sale estimate selling for an astounding $990,000 to set a new world record for a road-going Lagonda. The Pebble Beach “Best of Show” winning 1934 Packard Super Eight Convertible Victoria by Dietrich, the first car acquired by the Milhous brothers, garnered a strong $308,000.
In addition to the motor cars, the sale was highlighted by an unprecedented offering of mechanical musical instruments, considered among the rarest, largest and most mechanically complex and decoratively elaborate examples in existence. The sale was a benchmark for these types of pieces, the range of which had never previously been seen at auction. Leading this part of the sale was the exquisite 1903 Ruth Style 38-B Fair Organ. One of only two examples known to exist, it generated a lively bidding contest before selling for an impressive $1,265,000. Another one of the absolute highlights of the Collection and the sale was the ornate Gaudin 125-Key Dance Organ which sold for $1,150,000.
The centerpiece of the collection, the 46-foot custom built carousel also drew strong interest from collectors. A one-of-a-kind, fully-functioning work of art, it spurred a lively bidding war in the room and on the phones, realizing a final sales price of $1,207,500 to applause from the crowd.
The impressive catalogue of 509 lots was rounded out by an eclectic assortment of other collectibles, ranging from ornate hall and tower clocks to such decorative art pieces as Tiffany lamps and various artworks, as well as a diverse series of petroliana, neon and porcelain signs, unique gasoline-powered tether cars and models, and a large range of firearms from the late 19th century. The clocks in sale were led by the E. Howard Four-Dial Painted Cast Iron Eight-Day Post Clock which soared over the high estimate to sell for $106,375. A further highlight of the clocks in the sale was a Black, Starr & Frost Hall Clock which fetched an impressive $103,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $50,000 – $60,000.
RM Auctions will wrap up an exciting two weeks in Florida, March 10 with the presentation of its 14th annual Amelia Island sale held in conjunction with the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
To view full results or for further information on upcoming events, visit www.rmauctions.com