The second half of the Winter Auction season promised to be an interesting mix. There were very traditional offerings - first H & H with in the surroundings of Chateau Impney and whilst Bonhams moved from the sophistication of New Bond Street to the familiarity of the RAF Museum at Hendon.
But RM, with an eye watering selection of automotive art chose the 10th floor of a New York skyscraper to launch their “Driven by Disruption Sale”
It came as no surprise that prices at Chateau Impney were under shooting estimates as they had elsewhere the previous week. Of course there were exceptions – very early, there must have been a thrill of anticipation for the balance of the sale when an MGB GT V8 made £13,000 on the hammer against its top estimate of £7,000. Sadly for
H & H it was a bit of a false dawn but the sun shone down when their first Aston Martin came up for sale.
It was another DBS, clearly a model that is currently top of buyers lists. Described as “substantially complete but has been partially stripped” and offered in a lovely shade of Grey primer, the car had a top estimate of £38,000 but saw a hammer price of £74,000 (£85,880 with premium). Sadly that was the only ray of sunshine for Aston Martin as a 2001 DB7 Vantage manual only made £21,000 (£23,730 with premium) a performance that reflected the market as well as the balance of the sale.
Next day at Hendon, the Bonhams team must have thought they had broken the mould when The Gordon Willey Collection – Part II kicked off the sale and the auctioneer resembled an industrious carpenter hammering nails as the gavel came down rapidly and repeatedly on lot after lot, predominantly Bentleys, most sold in excess of estimate. But this was again, a false dawn and even a change of auctioneer did not change the pattern.
One similarity between the auctioneers, pointed out by an auction regular, was their disconcerting familiarity with the buying audience. Max Girardo at RM knows what language to speak to encourage particular bidders and the Bonhams team know the Buyer’s home towns. We know auctions benefit equally from Buyers and Sellers but with auction sales being for example, recommendation from many in the legal profession for probate sales, there has to be clear blue water between the two sides of the transaction.
The Aston Martin highlight at Hendon was a Vantage Supercharged with the rare addition of automatic transmission, it secured £115,000 (£130,300 with premium) so once more, quality in Aston Martin bucked the trend.
But everyone was waiting to see whether what had preceded RM’s “Driven by Disruption Sale” was merely the piquant starter before the main course – would RM buck the trend? The price point was definitely on a different level but would the market be different?
The headlines after the event will scream “World Records” and the 1956 Ferrari 290MM by Scaglietti certainly delivered with $28,050,000. Aston Martin was once more to the fore with a 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato that Byron brought back for a client in the mid 90’s, it was a good price then but nothing like the $14,300,000 that it made in today’s market. That’s cracking news for both DB4GT owners and of course the Zagatos - not to mention a timely boost for Stephen Archer’s forthcoming book on DB4GT. But behind the headlines, there were the Ferraris, the Lamborghinis and the BMW’s left on the shelf for next time – the price point may be different, but the same rules apply.
So we enter the brave new world of 2016 with a market that remains strong but with a clear price distinction between the rare / best and the rest. That distinction may be exaggerated by a movement in interest rates but it won’t change its nature.
Make sure that your classic – especially if it is an Aston Martin – is properly insured and keep in touch with market values.
That’s all for 2015 at the sales - Seasons Greetings from all of us at Byron International and we look forward to hearing from you in the New Year.
© BYRON INTERNATIONAL