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HomeThe MarketRear view: 7 -- Bugatti Royale sale sets pre-war sales price record

Rear view: 7 — Bugatti Royale sale sets pre-war sales price record

Huge luxury car was hidden from the Nazis during World War II

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Although the actual sales figure was not revealed, a person involved in the March 2021 sale of a Bugatti Royale confirmed the price was more than the then-record $22 million spent in 2018 for a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ roadster formerly owned by actor Clark Gable. 

That would make “The Berline de Voyate,” one of only seven Royales built by Ettore Bugatti, the most expensive pre-war car ever bought or sold.

The car had been in the United States since 1951 but was sold in 2021 in a private transaction to a European collector.

The car, chassis 41150, was the sixth of the Royales produced between 1927 and 1933 and stretches nearly 21 feet in length and weighs around 7,000 pounds. Like its siblings, it is powered by a 12.8-liter straight-8 engine.

When the car was originally completed but failed to sell immediately, Bugatti kept it. With the “Coupe Napoleon,” another Royale and the first one done, it was hidden behind a bricked-in wall at the Bugatti home in France, and thus protected from the Nazi invasion during World War II.

After the war, the cars were purchased from Bugatti’s daughter, L’Ebe, by American sportsman and racer Briggs Cunningham, and only for around $600 each as the French franc was devalued following the war. Cunningham included two new GE refrigerators in the deal because such comforts were not easily attainable in post-war France.

Cunningham spent thousands to have the cars restored in Europe before shipping them home in 1951. A year later, he sold the Berline to collector Cameron Peck, and it later became part of the Bill Harrah Collection. When the Harrah Collection went to auction after his death, the car was purchased for a then-record $6.5 million by Texas real estate developer Jerry Moore, who kept the car little more than year before selling it for $8 million to Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza.

The car later became part of the Imperial Palace Collection housed in Las Vegas and then went to the Blackhawk Collection in northern California.

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