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1964 Ferrari 250 LM fetches record $14.3M in decade's first Manhattan car auction

This 1964 Ferrari 250 LM sold for $14.3

This 1964 Ferrari 250 LM sold for $14.3 million at a Nov. 21, 2013 auction in Manhattan. Credit: RM Auctions

A 1964 Ferrari 250 LM sold for $14.3 million at auction Nov. 21.

Estimated at $12 million to $15 million, it was the top lot of “Art of the Automobile,” the first car auction in Manhattan in more than a decade. Organized by Sotheby’s and RM Auctions, it offered 34 trophy vehicles. The auction tallied $62.8 million, exceeding the presale estimate of $50 million; of the 41 offered lots, only three failed to find buyers.

The winning bidder was on the telephone, represented by RM Specialist Ian Kelleher. While the 250 LM price smashed the record of $6.9 million for the model, it fell short of the top price for the marque: a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO racer became the world’s most expensive car, selling for $52 million privately. The salesroom was packed, with the elevators full and champagne flowing at 2 p.m.

“It was a big experiment,” said Rob Myers, founder and chief executive officer of RM Auctions, which has headquarters in Ontario, Canada. “The results rank among the top four auctions we’ve ever had,” Myers said, sipping Budweiser after the sale.

The red Ferrari, just 44 inches (1.1 meters) tall, was designed by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, on chassis number 6107. Only 32 examples of Ferrari 250 LM have been produced, including the last Ferrari to win the 24-Hour race at Le Mans in 1965.

The car had been owned by Ecuadorian car racing duo as well as collectors from Japan, the U.K. and California. Sotheby’s, RM Auctions, or both companies had an economic interest in the lot, according to the catalog.

Car Crash

The Ferrari had been parked by the entrance to Sotheby’s New York headquarters before moving up to the 10th floor for the exhibition this week. Other Ferraris, Bugattis and Cadillacs were exhibited on the same space where Andy Warhol’s $105 million “Silver Car Crash” and hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen’s art trove hung last week.

The auto exhibition attracted between 1,200 and 1,500 visitors a day, one of the highest attendance rates for Sotheby’s, the auction house said.

An Art Deco-inspired, cream-colored 1938 Talbot-Lago cabriolet made by French coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi fetched $7.15 million with fees, against the estimate range of $8 million to $10 million. This beat the previous best for a Talbot-Lago of $4.8 million. The prices include a buyer’s premium; the estimates don’t.

The Talbot’s seller was James Patterson, a collector based in Louisville, Ky, who spent at least two years restoring the vehicle, he said after the auction. He said he also placed in the sale a 1954 Pegaso that fetched $797,500 and a 1956 Aston Martin “Supersonic,” which sold for $2.31 million.

Lincoln Fails

The biggest casualty was a 1955 orange Lincoln made by Italian coachbuilder Felice Mario Boano. Estimated at $2 million to $2.5 million, it stalled at $1.5 million.

“There were ups and downs,” said Marcel Massini, a Swiss- based Ferrari historian, who attended the auction. “At this price level, the air is very thin.”

A Maserati A6G/2000 Spyder from 1955 with coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato sold for $4.5 million, against an estimate of $3.5 million to $4.5 million.

The buyer was Oscar Davis, a swimming pool manufacturer from Elizabeth, N.J., who’s been collecting cars since the mid-1950s. With the Maserati, his collection will include 41 vehicles, he said.

A 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB “Competition” Berlinetta Speciale, a dual-purpose sports-racing coupe with bespoke coachwork by Bertone, fetched $7 million, within the presale estimate range. It was the third priciest lot of the sale.

Duesenberg Chase

A 1933 Duesenberg fetched $1.8 million, falling short of the presale low estimate. Equipped with a centrifugal supercharger, it is capable of 100 miles per hour. The lot was chased by at least four bidders and sold to Kelleher’s telephone client.

Few lots surpassed their high estimates. One exception was a children’s model of 1958 Ferrari 180 Testa Rossa. Estimated at $50,000 to $75,000, the lot sold for $126,500.

“Imagine how happy your son would be,” the auctioneer, Max Girardo, told a hesitating bidder.

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