I was most amused to read in Matters of Moment (Motor Sport, March 1988), that you seem to endorse a suggestion that the recent sale of the Bugatti Royale might have been a Publicity stunt laid on by Christie’s. If, as you intimate, the sale was a giant hoax, then I think the 3000 people at the Albert Hall didn’t get the joke.
Unfortunately, by printing such crass suggestions, you bring into question the integrity of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu as sponsor, Christie’s as auctioneer, and myself as successful bidder. Reading your reference to Christie’s denial of the suggestion coupled with the remark “as one would expect”, I thought for one moment I was reading a Sunday scandal-sheet. But no, there it was in blackand-white in “The Authoritative Voice of the Sport”. Surely, this self-appointed authoritative voice should have checked the facts. It could, for example, have phoned the previous owner or myself, prior to printing what it admits to be a “suggestion” and using it as an example of auction skulduggery.
The irony in the article is that, in setting out to warn against inaccurate catalogue descriptions based on “pub-talk”, you are immediately guilty of promoting precisely the type of badly-researched misinformation you are quite rightly trying to stop. I must say I thoroughly endorse your cry for accuracy in auction catalogues, and it is a great pity that your own article on such an important subject should lower itself by supporting wholly inaccurate, unsubstantiated nonsense.
Nicholas Harley, Winkleigh Garage Ltd London W11
The suggestion that the Royale sale might have been a publicity stunt most certainly did not emanate from Motor Sport. In fact, we pointed out that Christie’s, as one expected they would, denied it. We thought, therefore, that we had made clear the absurdity of this suggestion. Although the mystery buyer has still not been named, the Bugatti Royale is now on show in the Donington Collection. WB
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