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Artcurial sells 1972 Le Mans-winning Matra MS 670

Artcurial sells 1972 Le Mans-winning Matra MS 670 6th February 2021

Playing to a small audience in the room and taking bids online and over the telephone, the familiar line-up of Maître Hervé Poulain, Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff sold a piece of French history late yesterday afternoon.

One day the back-story will be told of how and why the famous Matra sports-racer came out of long-term ownership in the Lagardère group. But when Arnaud Lagardère, the son of former CEO Jean-Luc, decided to sell one of the country’s most famous racing cars, it’s little surprise that Artcurial – a national institution and the default option for top-level French automobiles – was chosen to handle the sale.

The Le Mans winner would have been the highlight of the company’s flagship Rétromobile sale had the event not been postponed due to the pandemic.

So in scenes of great drama, fittingly around 4pm, Maître Poulain cried “Adjugé!” when bidding on the blue car hit €5,000,000. Artcurial tells us that 20% French TVA is added to the net price before buyer’s premium is applied, so that figure is really €6,000. Okay... nice work if you can get it. In certain circumstances – geographic location, company tax status – buyers might be able to claim the TVA back.

With TVA and buyer’s premium, the gross comes out at €6,907,200. K500 understands the car has gone to a Monaco-based video gaming entrepreneur, a long-term enthusiast of the marque

At a glance (provisional):

* Gross, motor cars: €17,944,420
* Percentage sold by number: 67%
* Top-selling car: 1972 Matra MS 670 €6,907,200 gross, €6,000,000† net (est. €4m to €7.5m)    
* Well sold? Nearly €2m all-in for an ex-works Audi Sport Quattro S1? Big money
* Well bought? The LHD 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage. Though not the actual Paris Salon car as first catalogued, left-hand drive, Vantage spec from new and good mechanical condition make the ca. €800k (say $975k) gross Aston something of a buy
† Hammered at €5m.

Elsewhere in the 42-car catalogue the Porsche 550A failed to sell on the day and a string of further no sales late in the afternoon included the R-Type Continental Bentley and Lancia B24 Spider America.

The auction included a selection of cars – ‘So British’ – from a French businessman who had owned them for some decades. Of these, the highlights were the left-hand-drive 1965 Los Angeles Motor Show Aston Martin DB6 Short Chassis Volante and a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT. Both had been marketed quietly at 2014 prices with specialists for the last few years without success before the owner decided not to sell after all. Then consigned them to Artcurial, which sold most well under lower estimate. The Volante achieved a modest €1,128,000 with premium (say $1.38m) and the DB4 GT only €1,324,000 (equivalent of $1.6m). The latter did tick all the boxes – just the wrong ones: RHD to LHD conversion; non-original colour; replacement engine, wrong type of gearbox; and two accidents, one while racing. At €232k all-in, the LHD 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Cabriolet from same ownership was another cheap car.

Matra apart, the big success of the sale was the performance of the modern rally cars led by the ex-works Audi Sport Quattro S1. This, the €243.6k 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 and even the 1995 Renault Clio Maxi ‘Kit car’ that sold for €182,120 show the strength of this market.

This was not an official Rétromobile sale, but exactly a year ago Artcurial grossed €20,625,226 in Paris, having offered 150 cars over two days of singing and grand theatre. As we have said before, in the new normal, less might very well be more and the days of 100+ nothing-special cars offered live at events might be numbered.

With Gooding’s online-only European sale closing while proceedings were played out in Paris, some $33m was exchanged for 37 cars in less than 24 hours – not bad going considering the situation worldwide.

Artcurial in Paris, 5 February 2021 – results

Gross: €17,944,420
Number of cars not sold: 14
Number of cars withdrawn: 0
Total number of cars: 42
Number sold: 28
Percentage cars sold by number: 67%
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 52%
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 57%
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates:  75%
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 7%
Average price of cars sold: €640,872
Average year of cars offered: 1969
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 38%

Photo copyright and courtesy of Paris Match