PARIS AUCTIONS | PREPARE TO BE ENLIGHTENED

We trade Arizona for Paris, also known as the ‘City of Lights’, a common misconception is that Paris is called the city of light due to the illumination of numerous historically significant sites not to mention its bridges. Although the name the ‘City of Lights’ has greater cultural and historical significance than just an expensive electricity bill. Paris is regarded as one of if not the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment and the 2019 debut for RM Sotheby’s, Artcurial and Bonhams in Europe could be enlightening.

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RM Sotheby’s, Artcurial and Bonhams have collectively announced their lots and with 372 lots to go under the hammer over three days, it promises to be another packed, busy schedule ahead. 

RM Sotheby’s get us underway with the Canadians announcing a traditionally concise 85 car catalogue for their evening sale in Paris. With an average production year of 1978 RM Sotheby’s are sticking to a formula which in previous years has worked well. 

The announcement before Christmas that RM Sotheby’s had consigned a private collection of ‘youngtimer’ classics to be split across 4 RM actions. The 25 lots that are coming to Paris has helped bring the average year of production younger. With a number of the lots being regarded as true 80’s ‘Q’ cars there could be significant interest. The 1985 Audi Quattro on an estimate of €40,000 - €50,000 but crucially ‘No Reserve’ and a manual – I can feel myself smiling already.

The biggest story so far is the announcement that the 2011 Ferrari SP30, a one-off built Ferrari for a customer based in the UAE is coming to auction. The Ferrari was commissioned largely on the running gear of a 599 GTO. The Ferrari comes from Ferrari’s own Special Projects programme, establish in 2008 Ferrari offered some of its best customers, including Eric Clapton, the opportunity to create a custom Ferrari. Although this Ferrari is no stranger to the market and could be negatively affected by previously being offered in the US with no luck. Currently no pre-sale estimate is offered, it will certainly be going through at more than 599 GTO prices, maybe into the millions.

If you want a bit more certainty the top lot goes to what would have been the big story; the Ferrari F40 LM, one of 19 and a two-time participant at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At €4.5m - €5.5m, this lot could be interesting and potentially a challenge to get away on the night.

Cheapest lots go to a pair of Citroen’s, it wouldn’t be a French auction if there weren’t a few. Lot 115 and 116, both without Reserve are at €15,000, personally the HY Panelvan in ‘Café San Rivo’ livery could be sympathetically turned into something good. 

Bonhams kick of their second automotive auction with what looks like another marathon sitting. The number of lots are up to 140 from 136 in 2018 and 129 in 2017, in their usual venue of the Grand Palais, Bonhams will be hoping for a repeat of 2018.

The Bond St outfit have no less than 64 marques going through against 28 for RM and 42 at Artcurial, expect to hear “don’t miss it, it’s the only one today”.  Bonhams have been focusing Paris more and more towards the vintage end of the market and this year the average production year for the lots offered is 1952, 26 years older than RM Sotheby’s.

BMW 507’s have generally been doing well for Bonhams, a BMW 507 hammered at Bonhams Bond St for £2.1m in December and John Surtees CBE BMW 507 hammered at £3.4m at Goodwood Revival. The top listing in Paris, yes you guessed it, a 1957 BMW 507 Series 1 at €1.8m - €2.2m there is scope in the estimate for this matching numbers BMW 507, albeit the exterior colour won’t be everyone’s choice.

At the other end of the auction the cheapest car to go through is a 1932 Ford Model B Sedan estimated at €9,000 - €15,000 and with a reserve. Although not unfairly priced and could interest someone with Hot Rod aspirations.

There are two cars that have caught our eye, both of them the best of British. The first, Lot 232 the 1932 Bentley 3-Litre Sports Saloon and Lot 237 a 1928 Bentley 6.5 Litre by Freestone & Webb.

Arriving late to the Artcurial auction is like being the last to the sunbeds at an all inclusive holiday. The auction is a spectacle with a crowd that most all-inclusive holiday providers would be delighted to see. It is a first come, first served basis at Artcurial and with Artcurial challenging Bonhams for the longest auction with 147 Lots to get through, the crowd will be welcomed throughout.

Even with the 2011 Ferrari SP30 at RM Sotheby’s, it will be a fair assumption to say that the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring at Artcurial takes the honour of top lot in Paris. One of five Carrozzeria Touring Berlinetta’s ever made, this example has not had a ground up restoration. Although of the three that recently have been fully restored, two of them have taken top honours at the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours in 2008 and 2018. At €16,000,000 - €22,000,000, we believe the car will attract significant interest, one of the most elegant cars ever made.

This isn’t the only interesting lot in a diverse mix across the top 10 pre-sale estimate lots. 3 Mercedes, 2 Alfa Romeo’s and then the remaining 5 lots being split across varying marques. One of these that will be catching the pre-auction eye will be the 1931 Bugatti 51 Grand Prix. A Grand Prix winning Bugatti with fantastic patina although as with all Bugatti’s it is worth having a detailed review of the description and documentation. This Bugatti doesn’t disappoint in appearance or in its colourful past as a Grand Prix car, unfortunately at €4m – 4.5m it looks like it may struggle to get to bottom end, let’s see.

Alpine’s A110 have made a resurgence since the announcement that they were being re imagined. This year Lot 75 should be the most interesting of all of the A110 going under the hammer and the Lot we are most excited for. A ‘No Reserve’ ex works rally car, competing between 1973 – 1976 at €300,000 – 500,000, this should get near to bottom end. It was 2 years ago that a works A110 and at the time recent Tour Auto participant hammered at €250,000.

Providing this year’s star lot does not get withdrawn, although with just over a week before the auction kicks off it would be a surprise, Artcurial should be looking at a significant increase over last year’s gross and currently the highest potential gross at the bottom end of estimate.

Paris doesn’t lack for interesting lots, although with potential uncertainty around the corner, people will be watching eagerly. This will be the only time the major auction houses are out before the 29th March, apparently, this is an important date for some kind of exit?

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