The Market


Stop press from Paris 2023: Artcurial’s Friday sale

Stop press from Paris 2023: Artcurial’s Friday sale 3rd February 2023

It was the home firm’s turn to take centre stage at Rétromobile this afternoon. As usual, a packed saleroom lapped up the circus atmosphere generated by the animated rostrum triumvirate of veteran Hervé Poulain, Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff. All eyes were on the cars from the late Bart Rosman, the 'Atlantic island find' Countach LP400 and of course the Ferrari 250 LM, one instance of "never raced nor rallied" being a hindrance rather than an assurance.

Until Artcurial releases the final figures, results at its auctions are hard to call. No Reserve entries actually fail to sell, while bidding on cars apparently sold one minute carries on seconds later as if by magic. It’s all part of the jamboree vibe that characterises auctions run by national treasure Artcurial.

The following is based on observations in the big auditorium on the day. Don't forget there will be another day of nearly 100 motor cars on Saturday, including the Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss Edition, 250 GT Lusso, F40 and Mercedes-AMGs.

At a glance (provisional):
* Gross, motor cars: €23,189,280
* Percentage sold by number: 69%
* Top-selling car: 1951 Ferrari 340 America Barchetta by Touring, €5,580,000 gross, €4,950,000 net (est. €5m to €8m)

The 250 LM carried an unofficial estimate of €24m+. It never raced in period but was a relatively ‘clean’ car amongst so many of its kin that had been demolished, burnt to cinders, lost their engines or suffered from split personalities; two or more chassis claiming the same serial number living on opposite sides of the world.

Bidding started at €16m and halted at €20m when the UK-based dealer in the room said “stop”. Matthieu Lamoure mimed the universal hand-signal of “close, but not quite enough”.

The No Reserve 340 America Barchetta was a fabulous car from the estate of Dutch connoisseur Bart Rosman. Unlike the 250 LM, this one has a fine racing history at Le Mans, the Dundrod TT and Daytona Speed Week. It was originally dark green, when raced by British first owner ‘Eddie’ Hall, then blue in the US, the colour in which it is presented today. Rosman had kept the car as a rolling restoration project and it needs ca, €750k to finish it off.

Marque guru Marcel Massini bought the 340 Barchetta on behalf of a new Eastern European collector for a hammer price of €4,950,000, which equates to €5,580,000 with Artcurial’s sérieux buyer’s premium of as much as 16% plus tax.

Our best buy of the auction? The tired and still dusty 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 now silver but originally a beautiful period brown and still with its preserved tan interior. At €928,000 gross, it'll cost the buyer around €1.3m and two years to have a perfect car to a great spec, in our opinion the 1970s equivalent of a Ferrari 250 SWB and a wise long-term purchase.

It’s easy to poke fun at the likeable Three Musketeers (below, left), but today’s sale was conducted at quite a pace; unsold lots were quickly abandoned, and no doubt more cars will find new owners post-sale. In general, prices were low, though the on-the-night sell-through was an OK 69%, with more to come on Saturday.

Other results of note (all prices gross):

* 1960 Aston Martin DB4 Series 2, €510,400. Single ownership since 1968, ‘time-warp’ condition, French-delivered car goes for all the money.
* 1936 Jaguar SS100 2.5-litre, €353,800. Nice, restored car with smaller engine that sold well.
* 1935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante, Not Sold. Mammoth catalogue history tells a complicated tale and this plus changing tastes must have affected the result, but car presented smartly.
* 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort, €1,009,200. Very 1980s paint-to-sample white with ‘Cartier Red’ interior throughout not for everyone; ludicrously non-committal catalogue description – basically, “it’s a 959” –  did not inspire confidence.
* 1964 Riva Super Florida 'Elodi 1’, €295,800. Ex-Jean-Paul Belmondo. His son, Paul, was present (above, right) to witness the sale.
* 1970 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 'Daytona', €638,000. Good figure for an unremarkable red ‘Plexi’ car on cast wheels.

Artcurial at Rétromobile, 3 February 2023 – provisional results, Friday only

Total gross cars: €23,189,280
Number of cars not sold: 39
Number of cars withdrawn: 2
Total number of cars: 126
Number sold: 87
Percentage cars sold by number: 69%
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 30%
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 84%
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 91%
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 11%
Average value of cars sold: €266,543
Average year of cars offered: 1966
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 54%

2023 Paris Rétromobile week auctions overview with all results to follow…

Photos by K500