Saturday Night Fever: RM’s final sale at Monterey in 2023
There was no conflicting event: RM finally had the field to itself. After three days of auctions, and 581 cars of every variety already crossing the block, perhaps the public had lost its appetite for a further 72 tonight. Pending post-sale dealing, approximate closing-bell figures show a typically average sell-through-by-number of 75%, with several feature lots not yet finding new homes.
Auctions are all about the mood of the moment. A succession of three non-selling lots, for example, might lead the bidder who’d set his or her heart on car number four to have second thoughts. Tonight, a chatty saleroom was a distraction and set an overall tone of ambivalence that clearly distorted the results.
The ‘non-matching’ 1964 Ferrari 250 LM generated much debate but few meaningful bids and was passed at $17m. The recent Artcurial ‘fire sale’ in post-riot Paris of a ‘matching numbers’ sister LM with no race history clearly hurt this car.
By any normal yardstick this was a very high grossing auction, it’s simply that expectations were often set for tomorrow and many highlight cars had been shopped around and were returning to the market too soon.
At a glance (provisional):
* Gross, motor cars: $80,363,100
* Percentage sold by number: 75%
* Top-selling car: 1957 Jaguar XKSS $13,205,000 gross, $12,000,000 net (est. $12m to $14m)
Other highlights at a glance (all prices gross):
*1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, $5,395,000. Ex-Steve McQueen, now from a deceased British estate, restored to a coupé following many years as a NART Spider replica. The late owner paid $10.2m for the car at the same event in 2014, three times the value of a normal 275 GTB/4 at the time. Today the McQueen premium was perhaps 30% over a car without the King of Cool history. A sign of changing popular culture?
*1955 Jaguar D-type, Not Sold. In a slow sector, this car had too many question marks for those seeking the right ‘D’ to collect, not just race.
*1957 Jaguar XKSS, $13,205,000. A good example recently purchased by the vendor and perhaps resold too soon in a niche market where everyone knows everything.
*1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, ‘Sold After Auction’, though hammered as passed. Too many changes of owners, colours and types of bodywork. Buyers will only pay top dollar for covered headlamps and slotted side vents – this car had neither.
*1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 ‘Del Rio’, $3,800,000. Slightly well bought, likely a result of its poorly redone ‘garden gate’ paint and questions over whether the absence of bumpers (which subjectively improve the looks) is how it left the factory. Either way, an easy fix and an interesting 275.
*1929 Bentley 4½-Litre ‘Short-Chassis’ Sports Tourer by Vanden Plas, $1,600,000. This was the ultimate customer spec for a 4½ and a good buy at this price, below what the vendor paid not so long ago.
RM Sotheby’s at the Portola Plaza, 19 August 2023 – provisional results
Number of cars not sold: 18
Number of cars withdrawn: 0
Total number of cars: 72
Number sold: 54
Percentage of cars sold by number: 75%
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 43%
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 59%
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 24%
Average price of cars sold: $1,488,206
Average year of cars offered: 1964
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 31%
Photos by K500