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Monte Carlo Flash Report: Boom For Some, Bust For Others...

Just as the Herald Tribune observed a few days ago that the disconnect between the high end art market and the wider economy now appears to be radical, so does the contrast between the best and the rest in the classic car auction world. We've just returned from the Monaco Historic Weekend armed with sales results, feedback from buyers, sellers and auctioneers, and first hand analysis of the cars which crossed the block at the three auctions. To get a snapshot of what happened, this says it all:

Steamrollered: RM had the pick of the best cars and the high rolling clients followed. The others got the left-overs...

RM Auctions at the Grimaldi Forum

Sale total: €32,207,040
Success rate: 73,40%
Top five sellers:

1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider € 5,040,000.00 ($ 6.516.720)
1966 Ferrari 206 S Dino Spyder € 2,520,000.00 ( $ 3.258.360 )
1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spyder 'Tuboscocca' € 2,520,000.00 ( $ 3.258.360 )
1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Sport Cabriolet A € 2,324,000.00 ( $ 3.004.930 )
2007 Peugeot 908 V-12 HDi FAP Le Mans Racing Car € 1,680,000.00 ( $ 2.172.240 )

Much publicised Alfa Tipo 33/2 just broke the million Euro mark: Dino 206 behind more than doubled that and heads to the USA

Coys at the Cirque de Fontvieille

Sale total: €4,761,292.25
Success rate: 48%

Top five sellers:

1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Drophead by Gurney Nutting €1,144,982 ( $ 1.482.520 )
1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing €674,750 ( $ 873,666 )
1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series V Vantage €238,000 ( $ 308,162 )
1937 Bentley 4 1/2 Coupe Gurney Nutting €226,910 ( $ 293,803 )
1996 Porsche 993 GT2 Club Sport €210,000 ( $ 271.908 )

Coys claim over €1.1m for this Rolls-Royce Phantom III, a staggering price
'Retail silver' Gullwing was second highest price at Coys: €675k

Bonhams at the Collection Automobile de SAS Le Prince

Sale total: €1,881,000
Success rate: 46%
Top five sellers:

1965 Ferrari 330GT/250GTO Replica €281,750 ( $ 364,810 )
1962 Facel Vega II Coupé €253,000 ( $ 327.584 )
1972 Ferrari Dino 246GTS €178,250 ( $ 230.798 )
1956 AC Aceca V8 Coupé €138,000 ( $ 178.682 )
1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster €86,250 ( $ 111.677 )

Walter Mitty Ferrari 'GTO' based on a RHD 330 2+2 was Bonhams' top seller
AC Aceca with hot rod V8 power was another of Bonhams' headliners

Highlight of the weekend was the gorgeous Ferrari 625 Testa Rossa at RM, a car which just looked 'right' and was offered from 30 years in the same private ownership. It flew, selling for a whopping €5,040,000 back to the USA. Contrastingly, the trade-entered Ferrari 375MM, a veteran of the marketplace on both sides of the Atlantic, went nowhere. Second highest seller was the Ferrari Dino 206SP, also from long term ownership although heavily rebuilt, and also headed to the USA, in this case for €2,520,000. From the same period both Alfa Tipo 33s sold, the much-marketed 2 litre 33/2 costing its new Austrian owner just over €1 million and the handsome, unrestored 3 litre spyder returning to Italy at €1,232,0000. The Swiss-entered Ferrari Daytona Spyder, presented in non-original colours, was one of 18 European spec LHD examples built and went to the UK trade for a bullish €1,008,000. RM's sale total of €32.2 million, and 73% of the cars on offer sold, was so far ahead of the opposition that it was hard to find anyone who actually attended the other auctions- not helped by Monaco's notorious race weekend traffic. Well, they've only had since 1929 to get it right...

Riva Aquarama displayed outside RM set the scene but didn't float bidders boats...

All eyes now look to Goodwood in June, especially Bonhams who will be eager to put Monaco behind them in every sense. At the Festival of Speed the UK firm will be offering arguably the most important cars to come to the market this year: those from the collection of the late watchmaking genius George Daniels. My money's on the ex-Tim Birkin Blower Bentley- I'm wagering its evocative history will make up for its single seater configuration which limits its market- and the lovely Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 which, although rebodied, is a Le Mans veteran which ticks almost every box.

And that's before we even get to Pebble Beach...Is there no end to the market's appetite for the rarest, the most beautiful, the most successful, the most untouched or the most restored? For now at least, the inhabitants of our parallel universe seem to think not.

Images courtesy of Classic Driver, RM Auctions, Coys  and Pieter Melissen.

A Peugeot, but not as we know it
€72,000 for a FIAT Jolly? The (re)production lines are probably at full capacity already
Applause greeted result after result at RM
Is anyone home? Listen up: time for a clean sheet of paper