2020 Paris sales: Bonhams at the Grand Palais

2020 Paris sales: Bonhams at the Grand Palais 6th February 2020

The Brits returned to the airy spaces of the Grand Palais today and in a 101-car marathon sold 64 lots – that’s 63% sold by number.

The 1931 Bugatti Type 55 Two-Seat Supersport by Figoni (pictured above, on a rally in the 1970s) sold for €4,600,000.

The elegant Bugatti had been hard-fought-over by the leading British auction houses and in certain respects it was “be careful what you wish for”. Bonhams won with a complete package that included the most confident estimate; now it had to deliver. Much pre-sale talk was of the 1990s road accident that left the car seemingly dead to the world. The online pictures are horrific. Not so, said a Bugatti expert close to the car at the time, it was straightened out with much original metal still intact. It was, in fact, well bought.

Whatever, the result was a good one for the Bond St team who’d posted some lacklustre results in recent months and – pending RM declaring its final Paris sale total – now leads the way with a €19.4m gross.


At a glance:

* Gross: €19,435,383 (2019, €11,197,435)
* Percentage sold by number: 63% (2019, 67%)
* Top-selling car: 1931 Bugatti Type 55 Two-Seat Supersport by Figoni €4,600,000 gross, €4,000,000 net (est. €4m to €7m)
* Well sold? Hammering the top lot away at anything near low reserve was a good result
* Well bought? The post-sale 1956 Lancia Aurelia B24S Convertible, a usable classic for €227,500 all-in (est. €250k to €350k)
* One to take away? Another good-value Italian for events and tours this summer, the €43,700 with premium 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce (est. €60k to €80k)

Not only did the attractive Bugatti find a new owner, much of the remaining pre-War heavy (and sometimes not too exciting) metal was sold, albeit well below low guide price. Just one lot beat top estimate.

Significant non-sellers included the Dino 206S sports-racer (buyers want original coupés, this one’s history was just too complicated), the Lancia rally cars (any of which can be bought another time with full dealer facilities and without Bonhams’ strong 15% across-the-board buyer’s premium), and the 1973 Porsche RS 2.7 Touring, an example that had spent much of its life converted to wide-arch 1974 3.0 RS spec. The sort of story no one wants to hear before parting with €550k to €650k.

One of the success stories of the day was the strong €1.61m paid for the 1931 Invicta 4½-Litre S-Type Low Chassis Sports 'Scout' – a ‘poor man’s Alfa 8C’ estimated at €1.2m to €1.5m.


Full Rétromobile Week results to come from K500, with a comprehensive listing of cars sold at Paris this year ranked by marque and model.

Bonhams at the Grand Palais, 6 February 2020 (2019)

Gross: €19,435,383 (€11,197,435)
Number of cars not sold: 37 (46)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (1)
Total number of cars: 101 (140)
Number sold: 64 (94)
Percentage cars sold by number: 63% (67%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 48% (31%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 75% (73%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates:  91% (83%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 2% (11%)
Average price of cars sold: €303,678 (€119,122)
Average year of cars offered: 1962 (1953)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 24% (31%)

Photo by Bonhams (top)/Paul Hardiman