Comparing this year’s Artcurial sale with the one held in 2021 is like comparing night and day. Many things have changed: the ghost of Covid has been significantly reduced and the sale was conducted over two days, with more cars and a greater focus on the diversity of the cars on offer than on spectacular top lots. And whereas last year the top lot alone counted for 38% of the overall takings, this year the most expensive car contributed just 13%, in line with the 12% registered in 2020 (pre-covid at the time).
So we have finally returned to normal levels: 167 cars for sale, 132 went to new homes (79.04%), bettering the results reached in 2021. €36,108,002 ($39,604,340) in sales from €42,939,000 ($47,096,785) on offer (84%), double the €18,218,880 ($19,983,015) recorded in 2021 but also significantly higher than the almost €21m (roughly $23m) in takings recorded in 2020. This year’s average price of €273,545 ($300,032) also confirms the good mix of delights on offer.
From all these interesting cars, I have chosen those I feel give us a clear idea of where the market is heading.
Without question, the 1996 Ferrari F50 helped: just a couple of days before the sale, I was asked to evaluate another F50 for a friend who wanted to buy one and I started my research. In May 2021, an example was sold for €3.09 million, a new record. Then, during Pebble Beach, another one was sold for €3.37 million, setting yet another record. In February 2022 in Paris, RM went further still, selling one with 12,700 km on the clock for €3.43 million. The example for sale at Artcurial had covered just 1,318 km from new under the careful hands of its sole owner so the estimate of €2.7-3.5 million seemed to me nothing short of very conservative. In fact, the market responded with a very healthy €4,161,600 ($4,564,567). Followed by the now ubiquitous “another record”!
Straight out of the same collection, was a Ferrari Enzo with 4,760 km under its belt, which changed hands for €2,846,000 ($ 3,121,578), equalling the existing record for this model.
The top lot of the sale, however, was an ex-works Porsche 907 from 1968, with which the official team placed fourth overall at the 1968 Nürburgring and three times at the 24 Hours of La Mans. A beautiful car, very well restored, but without major honours… The estimate of €4-€6m was correct and took this into account, and in the end, it was sold for €4,390,400 ($4,815,522) which, with a victory, would have been a lot higher.
Let’s now look at the different results obtained by three vehicles from the best French pop culture: The first was a 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass F85 Convertible used in the film “Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez”. The film was quite successful back in the day in France, so much so that five sequels were made. Any hope of finding a nostalgic buyer, however, went unrequited: estimated at €30,000-€50,000, it changed hands for €26,224 ($28,763).
Another particular “object” was the 3.5 V8 Range Rover from 1975 (therefore the two-door version) which once belonged to Alain Delon. Here though, we’re on an entirely different level of popularity, particularly if you remember that in 2013, Artcurial sold his Ferrari Testarossa at Retromobile for four times its then-market value, simply because it once belonged to him. So what better location to place yet another of his vehicles? This time, the estimate was more restrained at €80,000-€100,000, which is nevertheless roughly twice as much as a normal car in similar condition. Sold at almost the limit of the maximum estimate at €95,360 ($104,593). Delon never fails!
I almost never talk about motorcycles, but this time I feel like making an exception. A Harley Davidson Softail Heritage from 1990, but not just any old Harley, the famous Laura Eyes that belonged to Johnny Hallyday (another French legend), which not even Artcurial was able to estimate: €50,000-€250,000 is not an estimate. Perhaps it’s a bet. They lost though if you consider that it was sold for €470,840 ($516,431). Every hypothesis was literally crumbled into a thousand pieces.
Disappointment, however, for the 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce Alleggerita which went unsold: Of the seven times this model has been sold from 2012 to today on six occasions, each has changed hands for somewhere between €175,000 and €250,000 and only one example for €166,000. The bids stopped at €140,000 ($153,555) and it returned to the seller.
With the world in its current state, what price could a 1967 Zil114 in presidential livery have possibly fetched? Manufactured in Russia, once probably the official transport of the President of Mongolia – presidential plate YB001 – powered by a 7.0 V8 engine producing 300hp, it seemed like a tough one to place. Instead, estimated at €40,000-€60,000, without reserve to boot, it changed hands for a stately €104,896 ($115,053). Spectacular. Who could possibly have bought it? It sure would be fun to find out.