Market and auctions

Paris Auctions: Europe confirms the American successes

Cliff Goodall’s view

Photo credit: RM Sotheby’s

Those who wondered whether Europe would be able to respond to the recent successes of the American auctions at the beginning of the year, had their answer: YES! Often the two continents do not “talk” to each other and the results are quite different. This time, however, the flourishing market revealed itself in all its glory in Paris, in the two events that survived a postponed Retromobile that risked ushering in one or two clouds of doubt over the first important European auctions: RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams. We will analyse the latter next Thursday.

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

RM presented the second part of the Petitjean collection consisting of 29 Ferraris, all without reserve. In addition to these, it added a further 28 lots for a total of 57 cars. The result was very good indeed: 89.47% of the cars were sold (51 out of 57) with €24,178,150 ($27,955,980) in takings, equivalent to 106% of the estimates. Percentages worthy of records.

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

With all these prancing horses offered without reserve, it’s not surprising to discover that five of the six most expensive cars in the auction were Ferraris.

The crown went to a 288 GTO from the Petitjean collection. Just 9,559 km from new, but it wasn’t in the greatest of shape. It’s understandable: the sale was organized for April 2020, then it was postponed. 

I was very curious to discover how this car would have performed: the last one, sold online right in the middle of the pandemic in May 2020, changed hands for $2.31 million (€2,612,585 at today’s exchange rates). But in recent months, the market has awakened with record after record, one after the other. The estimate appeared somewhat conservative: €2.4m-€2.8m. In the end, the hammer fell at €3,464,375 ($3,918,175), a new record for the model.

1985 Ferrari 288 GTO sold for €3,464,375 ($3,918,175)

I also wanted to keep my eye on the F50 from 1996, which changed hands for €3,436,250 ($3,886,365), a new European record, while the 250 Lusso from 1964 that sold for €1,186,250 ($1,341,636) was a bargain for the buyer when compared to the latest American prices.

1996 Ferrari F50 sold for €3,436,250 ($3,886,365)
1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L Berlinetta Lusso sold for €1,186,250 ($1,341,636)

A really exciting car to see was the Ferrari Meera S from 1983, based on a Ferrari 400i and the final work of Giovanni Michelotti. A unique piece created for a Prince of the Saudi Royal Family, that wasn’t one of the most beautiful creations ever to grace the roads: someone in the room called it a Mazda RX-7 that came out badly. However, this didn’t stop a real bidding war from happening. The estimate was €90,000-€110,000, but that was quickly exceeded. When the offers hit €180,000, an amusing three-way ping pong match with increases of €5,000 began. When would they stop? Suddenly, a phone call silenced everyone: €300,000! Amazement in the room but, but it was not over: an offer for €305,000 came in via the internet. And so the battle continued! Who won? The bidder on the phone with a truly outstanding €432,500 ($489,155), four times the maximum estimate. This is also a record!

1983 Ferrari Meera S sold for €432,500 ($489,155)

The Lamborghini LM002 was an intriguing lot. After the jump from €100,000-€150,000 to €250,000-€300,000 following the arrival of Urus, it has not moved any further and it is precisely in this range that the silver example from 1988 was positioned. Among other things, it was a rare carburettor version, definitely more in the spirit of the model than the injection models. But in the end, it was sold for €269,375 ($304,660).

1988 Lamborghini LM002 €269,375 ($304,660)

Another useful car that highlighted what’s happening in the market from an entirely different segment was the Renault R24 Formula 1 used on the track by Fernando Alonso during the last three races of the season without exceptional results. The car was presented with a dummy engine so it was intended only for exhibition. The estimate of €350,000-€450,000 seemed quite high and in fact the final sale price of €258,125 ($291,935) wasn’t even close. The market for recent Formula 1 cars is very selective as recently demonstrated by the Prost F1 from the Guikas collection that sold for roughly one third of its estimate. These cars, when working, are very difficult to use (it takes a team of engineers just to start them), can only be used for particular circumstances (only on the track and only at certain events) and then, a fact that cannot be overlooked, are very difficult to drive.

2004 Renault R24 sold for €258,125 ($291,935)