The trouble with superlatives is that sooner or later they run out.
The catalogue at RM Sotheby’s New York sale was a cracker, but we have seen so many amazing cars come to auction over the last 18 months that for the RM copywriting team finding unused adjectives of a superlative nature seems to have become such a challenge that even the thickest thesaurus was of no use. In that case how does one effectively communicate the desirability of this selection of “the best of the best” when it feels like we have heard it all before? A slight change of tack seems to be the answer….
According to RM Sotheby’s their offering was “unprecedented” – have they forgotten the Pinnacle Portfolio already?
What did well?
Being an auctioneer must be tough these days. Selling the cars is the relatively easy bit – getting the consignments is the tough part. With seller’s expectations currently set so high, it is inevitable that we are seeing many generous estimates and that is one of the principal reasons that so many cars are selling below them. Despite this general trend, cars generally sold for sensible market values.
The highlight of the event (RM Sotheby’s chose to call it this) was the sale of the Ferrari 290 MM #0626 which had been raced by a stellar line up of some of the period’s great drivers including Fangio. Estimated at £18.5 – £21 million it eventually hammered for £16.8 million.
The RHD Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato sold for under it’s £9.9-11.2 million estimate at £8.6 million + 10% premium. We’ve heard a couple of murmurs that it should have sold for more but consider what you’d pay for an alloy-bodied Ferrari 250 SWB and it starts to look like a pretty good result!
The real surprise of the night was Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche 356 C. Estimated at what seemed like a sensible £260-400,000 it eventually sold for an amazing £1.16 million with premium. It just goes to show that there’s no accounting for taste or the effect celebrity ownership will have on a car.
Other notable cars that we felt sold well were the Ferrari 206 GT (£508,200 inclusive and “blessed with Ferrari Classiche certification”), the 1938 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow (£2.47 million inclusive) and Floyd Mayweather’s Ferrari Enzo (£2.18 million inclusive)
What didn’t do so well?
It was fascinating to watch the sale of what appeared to be a really good but optimistically priced Ferrari Testarossa. With only one owner and 300 kms on the clock, this car was claimed to be prepped and ready to drive but even then looked to us like a tall order at an estimate of $400-500,000. Say it in English – £264,000 – £330,000 – and it sounds a bit more reasonable given current UK prices but we are still of the opinion that UK Testarossa prices are in the main too high. It eventually sold for £191,400 (£210,540 with premium). Remember the 1500km Testarossa that Silverstone Auctions sold in February for £202,500? Bidding went up in the the smallest of increments and auctioneer Max Girardo seemed driven to distraction by the pace of bidding from what were no doubt dealers and investors thinking of their profit margins.
The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Sportabteilung’ Gullwing which was announced as “The rarest and most desirable W198 Gullwing ever offered” failed to sell against its £3.3-4.6 million estimate. The provenance and importance of this car felt over-sold to us – and what does “According to research that has synthesized the findings of the archives of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center” actually mean? “Synthesized” is certainly not a word you want to hear in conjunction with “provenance” and “history”…..
Patterns and trends
Another great-looking sale for RM Sotheby’s and we felt a solid result to end the year. With only a month or so till the Scottsdale Auctions the market appears to be stable.
We did notice that there seems to have been a subtle change in focus on what is described as making a car desirable. In the absence of originality the focus in the catalogue was on the quality of restoration the phrase “desirable late production” made a few appearances. Will these become the new hot trends for 2016 with later restored cars being pushed as opposed to original early production models now the latter are thin on the ground?
Quite a number of cars were from Japanese collections – we are seeing more and more in the market place as supply from more traditional markets becomes restricted. In our experience deciphering the provenance of these cars can sometimes be problematic.
Estimates remain enthusiastic however sellers appear to be willing to let their cars go to new homes regardless.
|Sold over estimate||2||6.45%|
|Sold under estimate||13||41.94%|
|Sold in lower half of estimate||6||19.35%|
|Sold in upper half of estimate||0||0.00%|
|Sold in lower half of estimate or below||19||61.29%|
|Sold in upper half of estimate or above||2||6.45%|
|Sold at median estimate||0||0.00%|
|Sold within estimate – ACCURACY||6||19.35%|