Art in Motion: Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 car sells for $7.5 million

Michael Schumacher knows the sweet taste of victory. So does the car that he drove to his fourth Formula 1 Drivers Championship in 2001. The pair struck gold again on Thursday night.

The Ferrari F2001 that Schumacher piloted to nine victories in 2001, including his last at Monaco, sold for $7,504,000 in front of a packed house at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 16 in New York. The sale not only surpassed expectations—the pre-auction estimate was $4 to $5.5 million—but it set a record for a modern F1 car.

Hagerty auction editor Andrew Newton said the upscale atmosphere and additional wealth in the room typical of a high-end art gathering weren’t solely responsible for the record price. But they certainly didn’t hurt.

“The sale included works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon…Over 50 works of art sold for over $1 million, six sold for over $10 million, and the top sale was a Francis Bacon that sold for $38,614,000,” Newton said. “The Schumacher F2001 was only the 10th-most expensive item sold, in fact. That doesn’t make the price any less huge or surprising, but it does put into perspective the kind of extreme wealth there was in the room.”

2001 Ferrari F2001
Pawel Litwinski courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Schumacher Ferrari in 2001 Monaco Grand Prix
Schumacher Ferrari in 2001 Monaco Grand Prix courtesy of Lat Images

RM Sotheby’s President Ken Ahn called the F2001 “one of the most important and valuable modern Formula 1 race cars in history.” Schumacher drove it in 20 races in 2001–02, claiming the pole 13 times and reaching the podium 19 times. In addition to winning at Monaco, Schumacher drove the car to victory in the 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix, the race that clinched his fourth driver’s championship and the second of an unprecedented five in a row. He also drove the Ferrari in the first two races of the 2002 season, capturing the pole in both and winning in Australia. Schumacher holds the F1 record for wins (91) and overall championships (7).

The Ferrari F2001 is powered by a 3.0-liter, 800-horsepower V-10 engine mated to a seven-speed semi-automatic transmission.

Newton said the F2001’s $7.5-million price tag includes its $6.7-million hammer price and a 12-percent commission, a bump from the standard 10 percent. The Ferrari was the only automobile offered at the auction, and considering its successful sale, Newton suspects others may follow.

“You can’t have this kind of auction success without trying to repeat it,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more historically significant automobiles sneak their way into art auctions every now and then.”

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