Market Report

A Deep Dive Into RM Sotheby’s Italian Blue Chip Lots

Premier Market Analysis from Duemila Route

Posted: December 05, 2016 5:00 pm
by Matthew Ivanhoe
Photo courtesy of RM Sotheby's.

Few people are able to resist the idea of an opportunistic bargain, even if the reality is far from a bargain. As veteran dealer Simon Kidston wisely pointed out, this is why there are so many third-tier rug and jewelry stores which have built businesses on constant “Going out of Business” sales, despite the fact that they are doing anything but.

Duemila Ruote, the Italian Government-mandated, no-reserve auction of Luigi Compiano’s sprawling, overgrown collection of cars, motorcycles, bicycles, boats, automobilia, and parts, held Nov. 25-27 in Milan, Italy, was a classic “everything must go” sale. When the dust settled, it was evident that nobody was able to resist the idea of a bargain, as bidders, over 83 percent of them first timers, pushed prices to levels which can only be described as shocking.

A number of cars traded for nearly 20 times its high estimate, and more than half traded for more than two times their high estimate. Despite the hurried and very complicated nature of the sale, RM Sotheby’s did its best to perform their due diligence. However, this was a sale where a complete abandonment of restraint dominated, even stunning RM Sotheby’s most seasoned specialists.

Although this could be seen as a strong vote of confidence in the market, sellers emboldened by the results of this auction shall quickly realize that this was a perfect storm, and not a new normal. The most valuable vehicles in the collection, which inherently yields the most seasoned bidding, told the most about the pulse of the market.

Let’s take a look.

2004 Maserati MC12

CONDITION: Like many of the more “blue chip” cars in Campiano’s collection, this one had many high points. However, the MC12 had a number of dings against it, which made it a middle of the road example at best. 

The front bumper clearly had been painted, although the color matched nearly perfectly. The interior was full of sticky switches which are common to Ferraris and Maseratis of this era. The unsightly aftermarket GPS stuck onto the center console, some scrapes and chunks in the rear diffuser (expected with a car of this length and clearance). Although the car had received a fluid service prior to the sale, it will undoubtedly be due for a more thorough servicing, to the tune of around US $25,000. The service records were sketchy; a number of stamps in the service book were for an entirely different VIN than this car. A mediocre example, better than the ex-Doug Magnon MC12, sold at Monterey 2016, but not by much.

ANALYSIS: Disclaimer: I cheered this result without reservation, as I have always believed that the MC12 is one of the most undervalued and underappreciated modern supercars, along with the Saleen S7. Ten times rarer than an Enzo (yes, there are over 500 Enzo VINs out there), proper competition pedigree, beautiful to the Enzo’s garishness, yet it trades for half the price of a comparable Enzo.

Until Duemila, that is, when it sold for €3,024,000 (US $3,199,850).

Without question, this was the single most shocking car sold in the “blue chip” category, and while I do believe that the Italian buyer did get a great car to own, I would not tell MC12 owners to start cheering the new Enzo-pari price just yet, as I believe this is an aberration; a 10 percent to 20 percent bump in value is more likely to stick; it’s where I am comfortable transacting an MC12 after this result.

1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Alloy

CONDITION: This was a very honest and correct Ferrari. While one wouldn’t describe the car as jewelry cosmetically, it was reasonably presentable. But even more importantly, most of the things that one looks for on this car were present and accounted for, in great original shape. If one were to bring it back to its highly attractive original color combination of black on tan, one would have a (relatively) easy go of making a truly righteous example of a highly desirable, eminently drivable Enzo-era Ferrari.

ANALYSIS: Let’s make one thing clear: Not a single steal was found at this auction. This car, the first of seven 275 GTB/6C torque tube examples produced, is vastly rare and desirable by anyone’s definition, and would have comfortably passed the US $4,000,000 mark in late 2014-early 2015. The 275 GTB market has retreated approximately 20-25 percent since that time.

The €3,416,000 price that this car achieved was respectable by any measure, and was stronger by a solid 10-15 percent than the other 275 GTB long-nose alloys I have had available for purchase in the last year, even more when accounting for significant strengthening of the USD against other currencies during that time.

However, unlike nearly every other car sold at this auction, I would not have characterized the price as a red-misted slice of insanity. The Australian group who purchased this car did get a very interesting and desirable car indeed, they simply paid full market price for it.

1952 Aston Martin DB2

CONDITION: This DB2 needs a full restoration, though very complete. If one was looking to do a restoration to European standards, one could potentially salvage the leather, though this would only represent a drop in the bucket against the US $400,000-$500,000 that this car will cost to be restored by a world class outfit (including the flat £400,000 that Aston Martin Works charges to restore a car). This car, having matching numbers, as well as being a factory left hand drive, high output DHC example was worthy of a world-class restoration, no sense in cutting corners on this one.

ANALYSIS: This one got quite out of hand. I believe that this car, with a top tier restoration by a world class outfit, would bring US $750,000-$850,000 at auction in today’s market. The estimate was overly conservative; as such, I was willing to pay up to US $250,000 for this car, given the £400,000 fixed price restoration which I would have undertaken with Aston Martin Works.

With the dust settling at an eye-watering US $539,280 (€504,000), this more than tripled the high estimate of €150,000, and more than doubled my fair market valuation of the car. A German buyer simply had to have the car, and it showed that RM’s buyers did not discriminate against any era, manufacturer, or type of car in their willingness to pay record prices. 

Long story short, this auction was a memorable one for sure. Clearly, there were plenty of vehicles that were desired by many from a new market filled with new customers for RM Sotheby’s.

Photos courtesy of RM Sotheby's.

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