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Ferrari 250 GTO Auction – Boys Will be Boys

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, s/n 3851 GT
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, s/n 3851 GT

Bonhams has recently announced that it will offer Ferrari 250 GTO s/n 3851 at its Quail Lodge auction, scheduled for August 14-15, 2014 at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel Valley, California.

The GTO is one of a number of Ferraris from San Marino’s Maranello Rosso collection recently acquired from the estate of Fabrizio Violati. Bonhams will also offer another nine of the Maranello Rosso Ferraris at Quail Lodge.

In addition to the GTO, the other nine Ferraris are:

  • 1953 250 MM Berlinetta, s/n 0312MM
  • 1957 250 GT Pinin Farina Cabriolet Series I s/n 0759
  • 1967 Dino 206 GT s/n00338
  • 1968 246 Dino F2/Tasman s/n 0008.
  • 1962 250 GT SWB Speciale Aerodinamica s/n 3615
  • 1968 365 GTC s/n 12655
  • 1978 312 T3 Formula One s/n 033 (ex-Carlos Reutemann, Gilles Villeneuve, British GP and Race of Champions winner)
  • 1981 512 BB/LM s/n 35529
  • 1970 365 GTB/4 Daytona competition specifications s/n 12765

To accommodate the interest in these cars Bonhams is expanding the Quail Lodge sale to add a Thursday, August 14 session solely (at least so far) for the Maranello Rosso Ferraris.

If that weren’t blockbuster enough, the GTO and all the other Maranello Rosso Ferraris are being offered Without Reserve. That’s a breathtaking, daring decision that has focused attention on these cars.

Which is exactly what Bonhams intended.

The 250 GTO is, far and away, the most famed, pictured, modeled, replicated Ferrari ever built. Its distinctive coachwork is instantly identifiable. Rumored private transactions in recent years have bettered $50 million, and there is no doubt, for several reasons, that 3851 will uphold that trend to make it the most expensive automobile ever sold at auction. Conservatively, it will be better than the next best (also to Bonhams’ credit with the sale of Mercedes-Benz W196R at Goodwood last July for $29,613,950) by a wide margin … something like 2x.

Its consignment to Bonhams, which has raised its game over the past two or three years by an order of magnitude, is a coup in the continuing game of one-upmanship among the collector car auction companies.

There is both pride and commercial purpose in holding the position “mine is bigger than yours.” The bragging rights are good, but the commercial consequences are more significant. Acquiring major consignments begets more major consignments.

It is especially significant to consign a 250 GTO. The last one that crossed an auction block was s/n 4293 at Brooks auction at Gstaad in 2000. The 1962 Le Mans 24 Hours GT winner and second overall, it was bid to $7,728,434 (CHF 13 million) but failed to sell on the block.

There are two other reported 250 GTO sales. S/n 3607 by Sotheby’s (under Malcolm Barber’s hammer) at Monaco in 1990, in the last vestige of the 80’s Ferrari Frenzy, to Mr. Hans Thulin who proved to be unable to complete the $10,684,491 (FFr 54 million hammer) transaction.

In 1991, as the Frenzy faded, The Auction in Las Vegas reported s/n 3769 sold in a private treaty transaction for $5.5 million. Since then GTOs have changed hands privately at ever-increasing multiples.

[Taking The Auction’s $5.5 million price as the base, at a time of nearly complete confusion in the collector car market, and assuming a current value of $55 million, the compound annual rate of return without taking into account carrying costs is just under 10.5%.]

The “why” of the GTO’s value is a mixture of rarity (36 built), competition history and success, the innate appeal of the sleek, aggressive coachwork and the private nature of the circle of 250 GTO owners. The ability to play and associate with them – the cream of the crop in high end collectors – is a strong inducement. For the last quarter century they’ve changed hands quietly, akin to being invited to join a very exclusive club.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, s/n 3851 GT (photo: Goddard Picture Library)
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, s/n 3851 GT (photo: Goddard Picture Library)

At Bonhams Quail Lodge auction on Thursday, August 14 anyone (with the sole qualification of having nine figures of discretionary capital) can join the club.

How did Bonhams score this coup? No one is saying, exactly, but recall that a few years ago Bonhams auctioned many cars from the Rosso et Bianco collection. They had been acquired in a bulk transaction by a group organized by Bonhams’ director Evert Louwman, then picked over with the remainder finally parceled out at several Bonhams auctions in 2006-2007. There’s more than a passing symmetry with the Maranello Rosso situation.

No matter how it happened it focuses every eye on the Monterey Peninsula on Bonhams marquee at Quail Lodge. They better have a portable Diamond Vision screen or two outside the tent, because the throngs that will engulf the site won’t all fit inside for the big action.

No doubt, Bonhams has the biggest at Monterey 2014.

[Source: Rick Carey; photos: Bonhams, Goddard Picture Library]