Auction Preview: RM Auctions/Sotheby’s New York City

While collector car auctions have been a regular fixture in New York’s greater metropolitan area (Bridgehampton, N.Y.; Westport and Greenwich, Conn.) off and on for more than a decade, New York City proper hasn’t hosted a collector car auction since Rand/Workman conducted a sale at Piers 92 and 94 on Sept. 10, 2005 ($3.1M in sales). Prior to that, Christie’s staged an event in Rockefeller Center in 2002 and 2003 ($2.6M in sales), and RM held an auction at the Waldorf-Astoria in 2002 ($2.0M).

How much has changed in the automotive landscape since then? Chrysler is now an Italian company, Pontiac isn’t a company at all, and the 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage that Rand/Workman sold for $114,000, including buyer’s premium, would now be expected to fetch more than twice that amount. The Ferrari 410 Superamerica RM sold in 2002 for $357,500 could sell with another zero tacked onto the end. Most notably, overall North American auction sales have increased by an estimated (and amazing) 600% during that timeframe. It is this last fact in particular that RM Auctions and Sotheby’s hope to tap into when they stage their “Art of the Automobile” sale in Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side on Nov. 21, 2013.

New York City has historically been an incredibly difficult venue for collector car auction companies. Despite Gotham’s infatuation with style and statement, and the high concentration of collectors in the broader area, capturing bidders’ attention is not easy in the city that never sleeps. To combat that competition, RM and Sotheby’s have curated an impressive list of consignments — as it will need to be — with 34 top-tier collectible cars on offer. Highlights include a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Figoni et Falaschi Teardrop Cabriolet, a Bertone-bodied 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB alloy coupe, a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, and the 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano coupe that was exhibited at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The 250 LM in particular is a model that hasn’t been seen at public auction in five years, and this car’s value curve perfectly illustrates the explosive appeal of premiere Enzo-era Ferraris with an increase of 65% since 2008.

Collectively, presale estimates for the lots on offer range from $60.5M-$78.7M. While presale estimates don’t necessarily correspond even loosely to final numbers, the level of cars secured for the sale give the event the potential to be one of the highest-grossing single-day auctions ever. It is the best examples of the best cars that have seen meteoric appreciation, and RM and Sotheby’s will put that theory directly to the test.

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