$22m Ferrari 290 MM tops RM’s $39m+ Petersen Museum sale

$22m Ferrari 290 MM tops RM’s $39m+ Petersen Museum sale 9th December 2018

Playing to a select audience of die-hards, regular RM auctioneer Maarten ten Holder dropped the hammer on what RM billed as The Grand Finale – Phil Hill’s 1957 Sebring 12 Hours Ferrari 290 MM – at a round $20m. The with-premium price of $22,005,000 pushed the likely gross to over $39m at a sell-through of at least 79%.

The ex-factory sports-racer was guaranteed by RM so was always going to find a new owner. Bidding started at $10m and the winner (via Rob Myers on the telephone) bought it at double that. The final battle was between Myers’ client and another handled by RM CEO and President Kenneth Ahn.


The 'realistic' nature of market confidence in late 2018 might well have curbed bidders’ enthusiasm a little. One of the great Ferraris, on the day, it was probably the right price for buyer and seller alike. Note, if that buyer is a US resident, he or she will have to add 2.5% duty to the purchase price.

At a glance (provisional figures):

* Gross: $39,281,480
* Percentage sold by number: 79%
* Top-selling car: 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, $22,005,000 gross, $20,000,000 net (est. $22m to $26m)
* Well sold? Big bucks for the No Reserve 1975 Porsche 914 2.0 that went for $78,400 all-in against a $40k to $60k estimate. The $335k gross Mercedes 600 Pullman was another hit
* Well bought? ‘Split-window’ Corvettes are evergreen classics. An auto ’box and standard 327 motor might have held it back, but $89.6k with premium against a $100k to $150k guide price made this subtle metallic blue car a ‘buy’
* One to take away? It’s nearly Christmas so, Santa, could we say the $22m 290 MM? RM sold a sister car for $28m in late 2015, Artcurial achieved the equivalent of $35m for a 1957 335 Sport in February 2016. In the scheme of things, and all that…


Much pre-sale publicity surrounded the striking Bleu Medio 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV (above). To less-desirable North American specification, the single-sump car had only been returned to its original livery in recent years by resto shops in the US. Ten Holder seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when he was able to drop the gavel at $2m, $100k off its lower estimate ($2,205,000 all-in).

Market commentators will be relieved to see the homely Vignale-bodied 1965 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 Shooting Brake finding a new home. A perennial, with its ‘Daytona’ cousin, at auction and in the showroom, perhaps we’ve seen the last of it for a time. A hammer price of $280k against its $550k to $750k estimate said it all. It’s unique for a reason.

The look on the face of an auctioneer who's just sold a $22m Ferrari...
The look on the face of an auctioneer who's just sold a $22m Ferrari...
And we know the feeling: the 330 GT 2+2 by Vignale is off the scene for a while
And we know the feeling: the 330 GT 2+2 by Vignale is off the scene for a while

The catalogue design, by RM’s already high standards, was stunning and matched the avant-garde lines of the Petersen Museum (below) and the event’s focus on Southern California's Kustom Kulture personified by artwork from Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth and Kenny Howard, better known as ‘Von Dutch’. Pieces such as ‘Rat Fink’ by Roth went way over estimate, in contrast to many of the motor cars.

Non-sellers on the day included the white Shelby Cobra, the Porsche 959 and the ex-Karl Foitek 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ Zagato. The latter, on the block at 03:00 European time, might have fared better at Rétromobile. As a whole, the selection of cars on offer was eclectic.
 

Stunning Petersen Museum in SoCal sunshine
Stunning Petersen Museum in SoCal sunshine

Conclusions, on this, the final big sale of 2018? Confidence at auctions in the US remains stronger than we’ve seen in London, Paris, Padua and Goodwood in the latter half of this year.

The healthy sell-through in LA was helped by the North American norm of nearly 50% of the catalogue offered without reserve. Realistic vendors – as always, Stateside – were happy to cut loose and live to fight another day, so the Scottsdale sales should be good. Those cataloguing the Paris auctions, however, need to look carefully at estimates and reserves. Without unique entries (Artcurial, as usual) it might be tough on the elegant boulevards of the French capital next February.

Porsche guru Magnus Walker gives the Kremer 935 road car the expert eye. It sold for $173.6k inc. premium
Porsche guru Magnus Walker gives the Kremer 935 road car the expert eye. It sold for $173.6k inc. premium

RM Sotheby’s at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, 8 December 2018 – Provisional results

Total gross cars: $39,281,480
Number of cars not sold: 14
Number of cars withdrawn: 1
Total number of cars: 68
Number sold: 54
Percentage cars sold by number: 79%
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 75%
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 59%
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 74%
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 20%
Average value of cars sold: $727,435
Average year of cars offered: 1973
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 46%

Fair result - $775k gross - for the US-spec 'Daytona'
Fair result - $775k gross - for the US-spec 'Daytona'
Rat Fink artwork proved popular
Rat Fink artwork proved popular
1932 Ford 'Lloyd Bakan Coupe' less so; it did not sell
1932 Ford 'Lloyd Bakan Coupe' less so; it did not sell
Ex-Foitek Alfa SZ Zagato (far right) relegated to the car lot in LA. A pity
Ex-Foitek Alfa SZ Zagato (far right) relegated to the car lot in LA. A pity

Photos by Evan Klein. See evankleinfilms.com