Monterey Week… but without anyone being there: The 2020 online sales
What happened? Did anything actually happen? In 2020 everything is surreal.
You can download a list of all cars sold by Bonhams, Gooding & Co and RM Sotheby's sorted by make and model HERE.
For as long as most of us can remember, the annual extravaganza on the Monterey Peninsula has wrapped up on a Sunday evening in mid-August at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Gasoline fumes, champagne corks, ticker tape and applause fill the seaside air. But this year, for the first time since 1949 – yes, it really was that long ago – silence. Did we miss the non-stop auctions, and did the salerooms miss thousands of visitors, hungry to buy a classic at the biggest event of the year? Let’s take a look at the hard figures.
In these most extraordinary times, online selling has become a necessary route to market and now forms a significant part of the conventional auction houses’ business. It clearly suits some cars, not others – the generally steady pre-War market in the US relies on a very high percentage at No Reserve. The novelty of online and the risk that Pop’s beloved ‘Full Classic’ will be ‘given away’ is too much for many to bear. Also, live events such as Amelia Island or Hershey bring the generally mature enthusiasts for these cars out in force. “There’s always next year.”
The same is true for older European cars, unless they’re sporting: that market is polarising continually, online, live, with or without reserve. Bonhams’ two giant pre-War Mercedes limousines, unsold to no one’s surprise this week, are a case in point.
Nor does the internet serve owners of blue-chip models, the $10m+ cars that have formed the PR bedrock of Monterey Week over the years. These still change hands even in 2020 – witness the prototype Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold privately several weeks ago –but require either boutique handling by known specialists, or the grand theatre of Saturday night in Monterey. Ferrari 250 GTOs, Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-types and McLaren F1s have not, until now, been sold online, although there is no shortage of bedroom brokers with Gmail addresses purporting to offer one “upon proof of funds and a Letter of Intent”.
So the online auction is suited to more modern cars, easily understandable in a “documented mileage and factory certified” way, keenly estimated (important) and presented nicely with a history file available at the click of a mouse. RM in particular has done well with this format this year; provincial UK company Silverstone grossed £15m in July with a live internet sale – more than established international players Gooding and Bonhams achieved this week.
We have included last year’s figures for comparison – and that was not a record year, with totals down noticeably across the board. There were simply too many poor-quality cars at too many auctions. The far lower percentage offered at No Reserve this time made itself felt: 67% sold by number versus 75% in 2019. However, the upside of this were better prices compared to estimates. Fewer cars sold below low estimate and now nearly 10% sold above top.
Without a 250 GT California Spider or two, the average price of cars sold was down, to $318k from $528k. In 2019 the highest valued car was RM’s 1994 McLaren F1 at $19.8m. Nine cars topped $5m. This time the Canadians once again took the crown, with most valuable car ever sold online – a title Gooding held for only a few days before – in the form of its $4.29m 2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive racing car.
The conclusion to be drawn is that after the auction overload of the last few years, people actually like online sales, the feeling of being in control in a home environment, safe in the knowledge that “just one more bid” is not played out to a packed saleroom. But it’s certainly not the answer for all cars, buyers or sellers, and No Reserve online is more of a danger than in a conventional sale. Having dipped a toe in the water, Gooding will conduct another internet-only sale in October.
Before then, we’ll see the art of an auctioneer on top form when the same Santa Monica company offers 15 closely watched cars from the collection of Hubert Fabri, streamed live worldwide from Hampton Court Palace on Saturday 5 September. Bids will be taken online and over the telephone. This ‘hybrid sale’ could be the way to present older, higher value lots to hand-picked buyers or their representatives: fully COVID-19-compliant, safe razzmatazz with none of the risk.
Expect K500 to give you the inside track on the sale of the year as soon as it happens.
Monterey Week Online Sales 2020 – Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding combined (2019)
Gross: $57,115,900 ($216,053,690)
Number of cars not sold: 87 (134)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (4)
Total number of cars: 261 (543)
Number sold: 174 (409)
Percentage cars sold by number: 67% (75%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 45% (48%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 67% (76%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 83% (88%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 9% (7%)
Average price of cars sold: $328,252 ($528,249)
Average year of cars offered: 1969 (1967)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 24% (48%)
Monterey Week Online Sales 2020, Top 10 Cars Sold by Value
1. RM 2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive $4,290,000
2. Gooding 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose $3,080,000
3. Gooding 2003 Ferrari Enzo $2,354,000
4. Bonhams 1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder $2,232,500
5. Gooding 1995 Ferrari F50 $2,134,000
6. RM 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB $1,980,000
7. RM 2014 Pagani Huayra $1,848,000
8. Bonhams 2014 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse $1,750,000
9. Gooding 1992 Ferrari F40 $1,628,000
10. RM 1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L Berlinetta Lusso $1,496,000
Gooding Geared Online auction 3-7 August 2020 – results (2019)
Gross: $14,342,350 ($76,824,740)
Number of cars not sold: 19 (32)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (0)
Total number of cars: 53 (140)
Number sold: 34 (108)
Percentage cars sold by number: 64% (77%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 58% (51%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 50% (85%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 71% (95%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 18% (4%)
Average price of cars sold: $421,834 ($711,340)
Average year of cars offered: 1969 (1963)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 0% (39%)
Bonhams Quail Motorcar Auction 14 August 2020 – results (2019)
Gross: $12,528,150 ($31,410,840)
Number of cars not sold: 37 (53)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (4)
Total number of cars: 99 (219)
Number sold: 62 (166)
Percentage cars sold by number: 63% (76%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 28% (45%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 81% (81%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 90% (93%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 3% (4%)
Average price of cars sold: $126,547 ($143,428)
Average year of cars offered: 1972 (1964)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 35% (56%)
RM Sotheby’s Shift/Monterey Auction 7-14 August 2020 – results (2019)
Gross: $30,245,400 ($107,818,110)
Number of cars not sold: 31 (49)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (0)
Total number of cars: 109 (184)
Number sold: 78 (135)
Percentage of cars sold by number: 72% (73%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 52% (47%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 64% (64%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 82% (75%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 10% (11%)
Average price of cars sold: $387,762 ($798,653)
Average year of cars offered: 1967 (1974)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 25% (43%)
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