GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT, (June 10, 2009) – Clark Gable’s Packard Darrin, the Rolls-Royce driven by Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby, President Woodrow Wilson’s Silver Ghost, and racing legend Fitch Whitmore’s Le Mans Special were hot lots at the annual Bonhams auction, held at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, June 7th.
Bonhams great white tent bulged with crowds of collectors, movie buffs and the curious –wanting a glimpse at the cars with notable movie connections, which went on the block at noon on Sunday. The sale featured the famed Ted Leonard Collection, a collector who prized himself of acquiring exceptionally fine motorcars with celebrity pedigree.
The telephone banks, manned by a half dozen Bonhams specialists, were a buzz fielding competitive bids coming in from all over the world including Japan, with one lot fetching over $130,000 from a private collector there and multiple bidders in Austria, Holland, the U.K. and US collectors from the West Coast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the deep South.
The ex-Clark Gable 1938 Packard Eight Convertible Victoria sold for $282,000 to a private U.S. collector who beat out four bidders in the crowd.
The 1928 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Phantom I Ascot Dual Cowl Sports Phaeton, from the 1974 motion picture The Great Gatsby, drew huge crowds during the auction preview days, and sold amidst thunderous applause to a telephone bidder, against several in the room – at $238,000. President Woodrow Wilson’s 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Oxford Touring Car, given to the President by supporters after he left office, went to a bidder in the room for $161,000.
“Collectors recognize that it is rare to see cars of this caliber and history assembled in one sale, and the bidding action certainly demonstrated keen interest from around the world,” said Rupert Banner of Bonhams’ Manhattan Motorcars department after the sale. “The sale also demonstrates that in this market, cautious pricing provides the best results.”
The top lot of the sale was a stunning 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio Drophead Coupe, which sold for $419,500. The crowd literally held their breath as intense bidding for this lot from collectors assembled under the tent and those on the telephone ended with the car going back to Europe. The highlight of the event though, was when racing legend John Fitch, aged 92, took the podium to give background information on his 1952 Fitch-Whitmore Le Mans Special, which lead a “charmed life” he said, to a standing ovation from the crowd. The car fetched $403,000.
“It was amazing to have this living legend join us at the event, and the crowd was thrilled to see him hop into his Le Mans Special – illustrating the spirit and sprite of someone far younger than his 92 years!” Mark Osborne, Bonhams West Coast motorcar specialist, said. “A one-of-a-kind event certainly, and we are proud to add the excitement of the auction to the enjoyment of the famed Greenwich Concours d’Elegance.”
Rarities were also highly desirable at the event, including a 1963 Porsche 356 Carrera 2 Convertible, one of only 28 built, which fetched $381,000 from a bidder under the tent. Concours condition offerings were also highly desirable with the bidders; a 1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster, refinished to a very high standard in its original colors of pastel green with a suede green interior sold for $106,470. The sale totaled nearly $5M, with number of entries and sale total comprising the largest auction event ever at the Greenwich venue.
The automobilia section of the sale, which started at 10:30 on Sunday, saw ‘Plates’ by Scott Hanson, circa 1998, a map of mainland America made from the license plates of each state sell for $3,965, and bidders eagerly bought up automobile related posters, artwork, models and parts.
Visit www.bonhams.com for more.