The Market


Another big total for RM Sotheby’s online: European sale grosses €18.9m

Another big total for RM Sotheby’s online: European sale grosses €18.9m 12th June 2020

RM’s first ‘European’ – in the sense that the cars were located there – online event closed last night. It was the Canadians’ cancelled April Essen catalogue uploaded to the cloud and it proved a great success: 91% of cars sold by number, the largest total posted online to date.

After a promising, if not sparkling, North American internet auction in May, the RM machine hit the ground running for the two-day event highlighted by 96 No Reserve cars from the collection of Marcel Petitjean.

As can be seen below, the sale just beat last year’s Essen auction gross and all other figures were remarkably similar. Sure, we missed the beer, sausages and chats over coffee with friends old and new – the overpriced hotels (as at all such events) less so.

At a glance:

* Motor cars gross: €18,883,860 (2019 Essen sale, €18,446,530)
* Percentage sold by number: 91% (2019 Essen sale, 83%)
* Top-selling car (pictured, top): 2020 Porsche 991.2 ‘935 Martini’, €1,320,000 gross, €1,200,000 net (est. €1.275m to €1.375m)
* Well sold? The rare 1965 Apollo 5000 GT Coupé by Intermeccanica, one of a handful that combined sexy Italian coachbuilding with reliable US Buick running gear. Estimated at an already healthy €120k to €160k, last man at the keyboard won it for €190k, or €209k with the event’s standard 10% buyer’s premium
* Well bought? Maybe the Petitjean Porsche 904 GTS. Questions of provenance flagged in the catalogue and ‘museum’ condition apart, €693k for a highly event-eligible car wasn’t bad
* One to take away? Another Collection car, the 300 SL Roadster first delivered to fast-driving French connoisseur Jacques Dembiermont. On display for years and no longer with its original engine, its provenance, Rudge wheels, as-delivered silver and original black leather made it – at €759k all-in (say $845k) – something of a buy, but factor in those high costs of restoration

The Petitjean cars were allotted a day to sell. All were without reserve. This section of the event grossed €7.13m and was topped by the Dembiermont 300 SL Roadster, closely followed by the 1968 Miura P400. Carrying a pre-sale guide of €700k to €800k, it sold on the money for €650k, or €715k with premium. Its non-matching engine but interesting period history in the 1968 French film La Leçon Particulière probably cancelled each other out. The new owner will restore it.

Twenty-four hours later and another 95 lots were on offer, though only 20 at No Reserve – which makes the sell-through figure all the more impressive. You’d be hard placed to spot the difference between this online sale and a regular live action one.

Buyers clamoured to be on the list for Porsche’s track-only 935 homage built on the chassis of a 991.2 GT2 RS. At €701,948 (plus country-specific taxes) new, when it can be sold a few weeks after delivery for €1.2m net/€1.32m gross, that’s understandable. But at least, unlike the outsourced pastiches of originals churned out by Jaguar, Aston Martin and now Bentley, it’s a wonderfully engineered car in its own right.

Other sales of note included the 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Volante (LHD, the ‘Campbell soup’ triple-black car, an auto-to-manual-to-non-original-auto example now in unfancied triple-red that sold very well for €627,000 all-in) and the quirky 1993 Lancia Hyena Zagato that went for €187k gross. Also, note the €770k for the 1939 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet by Gangloff; slightly under estimate but proof that the online concept sells more traditional cars too.

Finally, it wasn’t really so long ago that you could have bought a P400 Miura for €168,000. Two days ago, bidding closed on this sum for just the engine originally fitted to chassis 3156. The allure of ‘matching numbers’.

RM Sotheby’s The European Sale Featuring the Petitjean Collection online auction, 4-11 June 2020 – results (2019 Essen sale)

Total gross cars: €18,883,860 (€18,446,530)
Number of cars not sold: 18 (35)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (0)
Total number of cars: 191 (212)
Number sold: 173 (177)
Percentage cars sold by number: 91% (83%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 72% (56%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 61% (67%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 83% (80%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 8% (16%)
Average value of cars sold: €109,155 (€104,218)
Average year of cars offered: 1973 (1982)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 61% (63%)

Photo by RM Sotheby’s