San Francisco, CA. January 24, 2008 –On a summer day in 1899 Alva Vanderbilt Belmont organized the Festival of Cars, a parade of decorated motorcars along fashionable Bellevue Avenue in tony Newport, and the first concours d’elegance known to have been held in the U.S. In the 19th century the motorcar was very much a novelty and was a cause for celebration, and participants in this first-ever Festival included such noted members of society as William K. Vanderbilt and John Jacob Astor.
109 years later, the art and craft of fine motorcars continues to inspire new generations of devotees. It is therefore with great excitement that the revival of the Belmont Festival of Cars is announced. It is scheduled for the weekend of June 20-22 at Belcourt, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s estate on Bellevue Avenue in Newport – the very grounds upon which that first concours was held over a century ago.
In conjunction with this announcement is the establishment of an auction of exceptional automobiles by renowned auction house Bonhams & Butterfields to be held on concours day. “We foresee the Belmont Festival and our auction as one of a handful of must-attend events in the United States”, says Mark Osborne, Motorcar Department Director at Bonhams & Butterfields. “Newport’s reputation and importance as an East Coast summering destination and scene of society activities should blend extremely well with the heritage and caliber of the Festival and make for one incredible weekend.”
Last year’s Vanderbilt Concours d’Elegance was a resounding success and it’s anticipated that this year’s event, under the new historical banner of Belmont Festival of Cars, will only build upon that achievement.”Alva had to have been one of the most dynamic women of her day,” says Cynthia Gibson, Chairman and CEO of the Belmont Festival of Cars. “She organized this unique event by encouraging her friends (who leased electric cars – one of the few types of motorcars available in 1899 and the only motorized conveyance thought to be quiet and safe enough to be fit for a ‘lady’) to participate in her ‘car festival’. All of the cars were festooned with flowers and then paraded down Bellevue Avenue at ten miles an hour while the townspeople lined the streets and cheered! We are delighted to bring this wonderful episode of the Gilded Age back to life and honor the rich legacy the people of Newport contributed to the then nascent world of motoring.”
For more information on the Belmont Festival of Cars, contact Cynthia Gibson at 401-849-3330.
To consign individual cars or entire collections in the June auction, owners should contact the Bonhams & Butterfields Motoring Department.E-mails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or calls may be made to the following offices:
East Coast Team – Rupert Banner, Christopher Sanger & David Patridge- 212.644.9001
West Coast Team – Mark Osborne, Andrew Reilly & Nick Smith – 415.391.4000