Around the houses, April 2013

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News from the main auction houses around the world

—RM Auctions —

The Canadian auction house’s Villa d’Este sale on May 25 is fast approaching and one of the great racing Ferrari sports cars will be a headline attraction. The 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Pininfarina Berlinetta `Competizione’ is one of the three works cars built and was driven in period by the likes of Mike Hawthorn, Alberto Ascari, Giuseppe Farina and Umberto Maglioli. Hawthorn and Farina drove it in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, but were famously disqualified from second place after brake fluid was added during the race.

RM Auctions is asking anyone interested in the estimate to contact the company directly, but don’t expect this coveted racer to sell for any less than £4.5m.

There’s another interesting chassis up for sale at RM’s Amelia Island Sale on March 9. A 1970 Porsche 908/3 is one of 13 examples built: chassis number 4 doesn’t have any period race history, but was used as a spare for flex testing during the 1970 and ’71 seasons. It wasn’t until 1996 that Miller Historic Motorcars made the chassis fully operational. Despite this, the car carries a £900,000-1.1m estimate.

Back on January 18, RM had a successful sale in Arizona and attracted business to the value of £23.2m. That figure was helped in no small part by the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta `Competizione’ that went for a record £5.2m. A 1967 Shelby 427 ‘semi-competition’ Cobra was also popular, and sold for £1.3m, but it was the Italian manufacturer that stole the show with many other big hitters. Most notable of these was a 1967 275 GTB/4 (£1.2m), with a 1966 275 GTB and a 2003 Enzo both going for £842,570.

The sale total was up 42 per cent on last year and with RM “focusing on the top tier of the market”, that figure doesn’t come as a surprise. With banks offering only tiny interest rates, classic car prices continuing to rise and no Capital Gains Tax on such sales, auction companies’ financial futures look bright.

— Artcurial —

Every minute of Artcurial’s Retromobile sale on February 8 raised another £31,994 towards the £12.5m total — the largest ever sale of collectors’ cars in France. Headlining the event was a 1936 Talbot-Lago T150 (below), which sold for £100,000 more than its pre-sale estimate of £1.15m. Bang on estimate was a 1995 Bugatti EB 110 SS, which sold for £382,950, while a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina cabriolet with only 15,000km on the clock went to a US collector for £721,550, £60,000 above its top estimate.

— Gooding & Company—

Gooding and Company achieved a 97 per cent sale rate on January 18/19, helping the auction to reach an impressive £33.4m. It was the same story as RM, with fewer cars being sold at a higher average price (£333,100 in Gooding’s case). Unsurprisingly there were records broken during the sale, especially when a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider sold for £5.3m — a record price for any car during the Arizona auction week. There were 14 other records set, including the £951,400 paid for a 2003 Ferrari Enzo and £2m for a 1959 Porsche 718 RSK.

— Bonhams —

A 1929 De Havilland DH 60GMW Gipsy Moth biplane, which starred in the 1985 film Out of Africa, is heading ‘home’ after it was bought at Bonhams’ Paris sale on February 6/7. An anonymous telephone bidder from Kenya paid £173,180. The sale was a great success with 86 cars, 84 motorcycles and more than 100 automobilia lots finding new homes. A 1929 Bentley 61/2-litre Speed Six tourer (£712,678), a 1963 Aston Martin DB4 (£692,882) and the 1938 ex-Ettore Bugatti Type 57C special coupe (£593,921) contributed to the overall sale total of £11.2m.