The Market


B.A.T. cars triptych sells for $14.8m

B.A.T. cars triptych sells for $14.8m 29th October 2020

Starting at $10m, little more than a handful of further bids in New York last night secured the three ground-breaking Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) concepts for a new owner. The gavel at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction fell at $13.25m – $14.84m with 12% buyer’s premium.

The cars were offered as one lot at a pre-sale estimate of $14m to $20m. In total, the auction grossed $142.8 million. This, and the following Impressionist & Modern Art sale, meant Sotheby’s realized $284 million in one evening.

There was no doubt the cars would sell as the catalogue stated that the “consignor has been guaranteed a minimum price for this lot”. A third party had provided an irrevocable bid. He or she could either bid on the cars further, or take a cut of the profit based on the final selling price over and above the guarantee – common practice in the world of fine art.

Bidding was handled by RM’s New York office regulars Ian Kelleher and Barney Ruprecht and it was the latter’s phone bid of $13,250,000 that scooped the prize.

The three design studies by Franco Scaglione for Bertone on Alfa Romeo 1900 running gear have been in Far Eastern ownership since the early 1990s. They have, on occasion, been exhibited at Pebble Beach, the Louis Vuitton Bagatelle Concours d’Elegance and the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza. When not on tour, 1953 B.A.T.  5, 1954 B.A.T. 7 and 1955 B.A.T. 9d generally reside in the Blackhawk Collection in Danville, California, with other classics owned by the reclusive collector.  They were shown by Phillips in London in November 2019.

Photo by RM Sotheby's