Millions in Monaco

Racing royalty and His Holiness command princely sums in Monaco May auctions

The Bonhams Monaco sale coincides with the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, and this year’s consignment lived up to the storied history of Formula 1’s revered street circuit.

From 66 lots (of which 13 were unsold), the take amounted to €13,600,000, with Ayrton Senna’s first and last Monaco Grand Prix cars taking more than 40 per cent of that.

His first, the 1984 Toleman-Hart TG184, which ignited a rivalry with Alain Prost, outdid its estimate of €750,000-€1,000,000; the car that announced Senna’s arrival in Formula 1 sold for €1,610,000 after a bidding war at the Villa La Vigie.

The Brazilian ace’s final Monaco GP car, the 1993 McLaren MP4/8A in which Senna took his sixth win at the street circuit, fighting through an injury he sustained on the Friday at St Devote, headlined the auction. It finally fetched €4,197,500, with the buyer reported to be Bernie Ecclestone.

Motor Sport contacted a spokesperson for Ecclestone, but they were unable to confirm that he was indeed the winning bidder. Bonhams also declined to comment.

Fetching six figures was the 1987 Ferrari F1/87 that sold for €666,666, sporting Gerhard Berger’s no28 but, curiously, billed as an ex-Michele Alboreto challenger. A Garrett turbocharger belonging to the F1/87 sold for €1265 – less than some aftermarket Garrett road-going turbochargers cost now. And Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari F1 bag (matching the car) sold for €6325.

The Formula 3 Tecno driven by Ronnie Peterson and offered by his daughter Nina sold for €92,000 while TAG Heuer’s re-edition of the watch presented to Peterson by Jack Heuer for his 1972 German GP podium fetched €97,750. Proceeds went to the Ronnie Peterson Memorial Foundation, supporting young, emerging racing drivers in Sweden.

Raising money for another worthy cause was the 1955 Jaguar XK140 SE Michelotti Coupé which raised a staggering €365,500 for an animal welfare charity in Ghent, Belgium. That price tag was far, far more than its pre-sale estimate of €20,000-€50,000, for a car found in a barn in Belgium in April.

Illustrious and notable as an ex-works, ex-Mike Hawthorn and Umberto Maglioli racer, the 1953 Ferrari 625 Spider is a breathtaking example of a relatively untouched sports car that was campaigned at Monza, the Targa Florio, the Dolomites Gold Cup and then in South America by Luis Mílan. But it was condemned to a barn, and had a Ford Lincoln V12 engine fitted to it before an extensive restoration. Estimates were in the region of €4,500,000-€6,500,000 but the Ferrari didn’t sell.

Among the road cars that did sell were a 1951 Delahaye 135M Convertible that fetched €310,500, a 1931 Bentley 8-Litre Tourer taking €741,666 and a 1993 Bugatti EB110 GT coupé, selling for just over €600,000.

However, more contemporary European supercars failed to sell, with a 2013 Aston Martin V12 Zagato, 2011 Porsche 997 GT3 RS and a 2002 Ferrari 575M Maranello all leaving without a new owner.

Bonhams’ European Head of Motoring Philip Kantor was more than content with the takings, calling the sale an “absolute triumph”.

“We achieved astonishing prices across the board and found new owners for some of the most historically important cars to come to public auction in Monaco in recent memory,” he commented.

At the Grimaldi Forum the following day – just a 20-minute walk, or more likely, a six-minute drive away – RM Sotheby’s Monaco auction took €23,317,290 from 58 vehicles, while 28 were left unsold.

A 2018 Lamborghini Huracán, gifted by the marque to Pope Francis, sold for €809,375. Tripling its estimate the car was signed by His Holiness, perhaps proving the power of the Papal pen. Proceeds were donated to charity.

Road cars dominated the auction, such as the €1.7million Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, but the racing suits of Steve McQueen (of Le Mans infamy) and Ayrton Senna (1987), which fetched €40,000 each, showed that racing royalty reigns in the principality.