HomeCar CultureCommentaryDo classic cars get a parking place in the sale of collectibles...

Do classic cars get a parking place in the sale of collectibles at auction?


1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sells for auction-record $28.5 million at Bonhams' Quail sale |f Bob Golfen photo
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sells for auction-record $38.1 million at Bonhams’ Quail sale | Bob Golfen photo

‘It’s no secret that the… market is as strong as it’s ever been with dozens of new records… achieved in 2014.”

I put that sentence within quotes because I didn’t write it. I read it, and now I’m sharing it. I stumbled across it on artnet.com, where Eileen Kinsella was writing not about the classic car market but about the overall market for collectible objects.

Her opening paragraph continued, “But the hunger for the best of the best by the world’s so-called trophy hunters extends to a wide range of categories including wine, watches, photography, and older historic works such as antiquities and Old Master paintings. Here are the top-selling objects — and the often intriguing stories that accompany them — in each of these categories.”

Manet painting sold for $65 million | Christie's photo
Manet painting sold for $65.1 million | image courtesy of Christie’s

She proceeded to devote a paragraph each to the works of art, Chinese porcelain, jewelry, wine and photography that brought the most money at auction in 2014.

Which got me to wondering: Where might classic cars fit into the auction-price hierarchy?

So inserting the most paid at auction last year for an automobile — which occurred at Bonhams’ The Quail sale in August— to Kinsella’s list, here are what turns out to be the highest auction prices paid in the various categories in 2014:

  1. Modern art: Alberto Giacometti Chariot (sculpture), $100.965 million
  2. Postwar and Contemporary art: Andy Warhol, Triple Elvis, $81.9 million
  3. Impressionist art: Edouard Manet Le Preintemps, $65.1 million
  4. * Bonus: J.M.W. Turner Rome, from Mount Aventine, $47.4 million
  5. American art: Georgia O’Keeffe, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, $44.4 million
  6. Automobile: 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, $38.115 million
  7. Chinese Porcelain: The Meiyintang Chicken Cup, $36 million
  8. Jewels: Bunny Mellon’s Blue Diamond (9.75 carat), $32.6 million (hammer price)
  9. Watches: Patek Philippe, Henry Graves Supercomplication, $24 million
  10. Old Masters: Francesco Guardi, Venice, The Bacino di San Marco with the Piazzetta and the Doge’s Palace, $16.9 million
  11. Wine: (114-bottle) Superlot of Romance-Conti, $1.6 million ($14,121 per bottle)
  12. Photography: Alvin Langdon Coburn Shadows and Reflections, $965,000

* Listed as bonus because Turner is not officially considered an Old Master, but the price was the most paid at auction for any pre-20th century British artist’s work.

Make of the list what you will, but I thought it was interesting and notable that the most expensive car slots into the middle of the world of collectibles.larry-sig

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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