Sorry, Penn & Teller, David Copperfield and Criss Angel. If you want to see real magic in Las Vegas, take a motorcycle formerly owned by Steve McQueen to auction.
It happened again this past week at Bonhams’ ninth annual Las Vegas motorcycle auction, where the top-selling machine was a 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin.
“Arguably the most ‘collectible’ of all Triumphs,” Bonhams noted in its catalog, but add in the fact that this one was owned by Hollywood’s the so-called King of Cool, was restored by McQueen’s friend Bud Ekins, that the pinstriping purportedly was done by Von Dutch, and it was being offered with vintage patina – and the bike sells for $175,500.
So, what’s the McQueen magic really worth? Well, consider that another 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin was on the auction docket, and this one had a “museum-quality” restoration, recently won Best of Show at a motorcycle concours, and formerly was owned by Triumph historian David Gaylin — and it sold for $42,500.
Two other motorcycles sold for six figures at the sale: a 1993 Ducati 550cc Supermono racing bike that had never been raced, only used for track day events, brought $115,000, and the 1974 Munch Mammoth TTS-E 1200, considered by some to be the world’s first superbike, sold for $112,000.
In a post-auction statement, Craig Mallery of Bonhams U.S. motorcycle department said, “We had a very impressive selection of approximately 125 rare, uncommon and high-quality motorcycles on offer this year. It’s a selective market at the moment and while some of our motorcycles didn’t meet reserve, there were many exceptional sales.”
Bonhams did not announce a sales total for the Las Vegas auction, but going through the results on the Bonhams website, it appears that 95 of 127 lots sold for just shy of $1.92 million.
Top 10 sales, Bonhams motorcycles, Las Vegas 2019
- 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin, $175,500
- 1993 Ducati 550cc Supermono racer, $115,000
- 1974 Munch Mammoth TTS-E 1200, $112,000
- 1950 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series-C, $95,450
- 2008 Ducati D16RR Desmosedici, $58,650
- 1971 Marbles Motors Collection of Honda SLs, $55,200
- 1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead, $43,700
- 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin, $42,500
- 1918 Harley-Davidson Model 16F, $34,500
- c.1950 Vincent 998cc Rapide, $33,000
(Prices include buyer’s fee.)
The next sale for Bonhams’ motorcycle division is scheduled for April 27-28 at the International Classic MotorCycle Show at the Staffordshire County Showground in Stafford, England.