Europe’s biggest ever no-reserve auction rakes in $72 million
Bidders from 57 countries helped tip more than $70 million into the Italian tax department’s coffers in an extraordinary three-day car auction in Milan on the weekend.
More than 800 classic and historic cars, motorcycles, bicycles, boats, automotive signs and other parts were auctioned with no reserve in the Duemila Ruote (Italian for '2000 wheels') sale after the extraordinary collection was confiscated following unpaid tax bills.
The collection, once housed in a single private collection in Venice but transferred to Milan’s World Expo site to be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s, included 423 cars and took more than 30 hours to auction off, bringing in €51,263,270 ($A72.5m) in sales.
Some of the cars hadn’t been seen in public in decades and included race and rally cars, classic Italian sports cars and more E-Type Jaguars than had ever been seen at a single auction before.
In an eclectic collection dominated by Italian sports cars, the highest-priced machine turned out to be a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Alloy which went under the hammer at €3,416,000. The far more modern 2004 Maserati MC12, with only 6000km on the odometer, became the most expensive of its breed by fetching €3,024,000.
The action wasn’t all at the top end, though, with almost 60 Porsche 911s and 20 Jaguar E-Types auctioned, plus a wide range of Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Range Rover, Land Rover, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and even Lamborghini models on offer.
Several people we spoke to at the auction concluded that many of the prices being fetched were simply too high, with even mundane cars like a 1990 Fiat Panda 4x4 bringing €13,400, while a 2008 Mini Cooper S Clubman brought €19,040 and a 2007 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet €16,800. By comparison, a 1957 Beetle Cabriolet sold for €44,800.
It didn’t stop at exotic cars, though, with a child’s toy D-Type Jaguar bringing €30,420 while a lit Coca-Cola sign went for €32,760.
The most expensive of the 55 boats sold was a 1984 CUV Lamborghini #1 offshore Class 1 'Muira' with two V12 Lamborghini motors, which went for €117,000.
Being an Italian auction, it was no surprise that the most expensive of the 155 motorcycles was 2008 Ducati Desmosedici at €70,200, while the most expensive of the 140 bicycles sold was a vintage Italian Fire Service bike that sold for €10,530.
But the cars were the hot ticket of the day(s), whether they were restored or not. A near-wrecked 1952 'project' Aston Martin DB2 DHC sold for an astonishing €504,000, while three bare Ferrari bodies went for €54,880, €88,920 and €146,250.
The sheer scale of the collection, which had filled 11 warehouses in the Veneto, needed 100 trucks to transport it to Milan, where it took up an area about the size of four football fields.
The collection contained a handful of circuit racers, lead by the Lancia-built, Ferrari-engined LC2 Group C Le Mans racer at €851,200, an Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo Evoluzione IMSA Ufficiale sold for €336,000 and a 1990 March 90C Indy racer, in Miller colours, seemed a bargain at €95,200.
One of the strong surprises was the surge in classic 1980s and 1990s rally cars. While the World Rally Championship-winning 1992 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Group A car, in Jolly Club colours, was expected to bring in between €160,000-180,000, it blew that away by selling for €336,000. A 1989 Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16V ‘Ufficiale’ sold for €246,400.
“It feels like we achieved the impossible here in Milan this week,” RM Sotheby’s car specialist Augustin Sabatié-Garat said.
“The logistical challenges involved with putting on this sale are mind-boggling, but we have achieved results that nobody could have anticipated.
“The auction venue alongside the Milano AutoClassica was busier than we have ever seen in a sale room.”
The most expensive of the fleet of Porsche 911s, a 1996 993 GT2, brought in €616,000, while the most expensive of the Jaguar E-Types was a €173,600 1963 Jaguar E-Type S1 3.8 OTS, which was predicted to bring in less than €75,000.
The less well heeled got in on the action, too, with 71 cars selling for less than €20,000, though 120 cars sold for more than €100,000.
With no reserve on any of the lots, it was never going to be a “low clearance” auction, even though a standard, battered street sign saying just that sold, too, for €702.
275 GTB/6C Alloy
GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta 'Plexi'
LC2 Group C
EB 110 GT
993 911 GT2
"There's too many self-Indulgent wieners in this city with too much bloody money! Now, if I was driving a 1967 275 GTB four-cam... "