In October 2020, during an auction of modern and contemporary art in New York where works by Picasso, Andy Warhol and Lucio Fontana were up for grabs, Sotheby’s presented a very special work of art: the three Alfa Romeo B.A.T. built by Bertone on a design by Franco Scaglione between 1953 and 1955. The offer of just under $15 million confirmed that automobiles can also be art.
Of the three cars, the last one built, B.A.T. 9, was fortuitously recovered by a young American medical student who bought it without knowing its true value. His name was Gary Kaberle and he went on to become a renowned dentist.
Once he realized what he’d bought, he invested years of patient research and brought it back to its original glory, returning this very special part of the trilogy dedicated to aerodynamic design to history. However, his passion was not rewarded by fate: his wife Debbie fought in vain to defeat cancer. Even B.A.T. 9 was sacrificed in an attempt to find a cure. To no avail.
Turning a painful page, Gary decided to have Bertone build a fourth B.A.T. and dedicated it to his late wife. The result, built on the mechanics of the Alfa 8C Competizione, was remarkable. The team led by David Wilke managed to update and re-propose the principles that guided Nuccio Bertone and Franco Scaglione over fifty years before.
The dream of producing it with the initials B.A.T. 11 DK, the initials of his wife Debbie, remained just a dream. But it was a story worth hoping for. One last thing: when will it appear at Sotheby’s?