An analysis of the results of the Christie’s Out of the Ordinary and RM Auctions Battersea sales
Two September events that The Steeple Times has followed since their inceptions are the RM Auctions Battersea car auction and the Christie’s South Kensington Out of the Ordinary sale.
At Christie’s on 3rd September, Out of the Ordinary achieved total sales of £1,652,312 including buyer’s premiums as against £1,291,775 in 2013.
Lots we featured prior included a door from the childhood home of Paul McCartney. It realised £6,875 against a guide of £6,000 to £8,000 whilst a cigar box in the form of a model of Harrods sold for £86,500 against a guide of £70,000 to £100,000. A Royal Navy Nordenfelt 1-inch calibre four-barelled anti-torpedo boat deck-mounted machine gun with a guide of £60,000 to £70,000 topped its estimate and also sold for £86,500.
The best achiever at this auction, however, was an acrylic on silk taffeta by Bernard Buffet (1928 – 1999) of two eyes that had been used as a stage curtain at the Parisian orchestral cabaret club L’Alcazar. It had a guide of just £40,000 to £60,000 but was hammered down at an extraordinary £194,500.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday night this week at the RM Auctions Battersea sale, 81 classic and contemporary cars were put before the buying public. Whilst, by our reckoning, 11 lots did not meet their reserves and did not sell, several achieved groundbreaking prices.
A 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 rally car – described by auctioneer Max Girardo as being like “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” – was Battersea’s wildcard. One of just 200 built, the car was guided at £60,000 to £95,000 but went for an amazing hammer price of £140,000. Given Autocar’s Richard Webber recently suggested buyers of the standard 205 GTI ought to limit themselves to a budget of £5,000, this is a truly remarkable result.
Other top performers included the auction’s star lot, a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour De France’ that had a lower guide of £4,100,000. The 3-litre V12 road racer sold for a hammer price of £4,350,000 whilst another pair of Ferraris set record prices. A 1989 328 GTS, guided at £65,000 to £95,000, went for £140,000 and a 1989 F40 achieved £680,000 on a guide of £475,000 to £575,000.
Lots that didn’t quite fly included a favourite of ours, a 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Tourer that stunned won the “Graceful Pre-War Motoring Class” at Salon Privé 2013 whilst in the ownership of an American named Roger Willbanks. The car, which was used by Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in Mombasa in 1956, was guided at £275,000 to £350,000 without reserve. It achieved a disappointing hammer price of just £210,000 whilst a 1959 Facel Vega HK500 coupé that had been owned by Lord Soames (estimate: £145,000 to £175,000) and the 1939 Daimler DB18 drophead coupé used by Winston Churchill that we featured on Sunday (estimate: £225,000 to £325,000) both failed to sell despite bids of £135,000 and £185,000 respectively.
Taking items to auction has the potential for either amazing or disappointing results. Both Christie’s Out of the Ordinary and RM Auctions’ Battersea sales showed something else however this year: The market is still satisfactory-good and the best continues to sell extremely well. Proof indeed that it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the auctions.
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