Report by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
RM Auctions held its fourth annual Automobiles of London auction on October 27th, 2010 at Battersea Evolution in London, with the sale headlined by the James Bond movie Aston Martin DB5. It sold on just two bids for £2,600,000 hammer, £2,912,000 with RM’s London commission of 12%, a cool $4,612,317.
RM promoted the Aston as ‘The Most Famous Car in the World’, fame largely attributable to the ambitious, extensive and very creative campaign RM mounted to remind later generations of the Aston’s past glories. It traveled the world on a road show as elaborate as any put on by Government Motors to tout its coming IPO. The RM Graphics and Web departments outdid themselves with a special ‘dossier’ that accompanied the catalog and an interactive website presentation that allows visitors to activate the Aston’s various offensive and defensive features (but not, unfortunately, the famed ejection seat.) The website is still up, operating and worth a visit for a few moments’ diversion.
The effect was apparent when the bidding opened at £2.5 million and was promptly bumped to £2.6 by eventual buyer Harry Yeaggy. The room went pretty silent. Max Girardo fished for further bids. RM’s ring crew worked the crowd. The phone bank chattered away. All to no effect. Max eventually realized the pool was empty, announced the car for sale and counted it down.
Even that dramatic occasion may not have been the most important event of the sale, however, because on preview day RM announced it will hold an auction at next year’s Concorso d’Eleganza at Ville d’Este on May 22, 2011, a date that is planned to alternate with an RM sale in Monaco on the even-numbered years coinciding with the Grand Prix Historique.
Implicit in the announcement is the end of RM’s sale at Ferrari in Maranello, something that was confirmed by RM in answer to an inquiry. The Maranello sales were crucial to RM’s expansion into Europe, as well as to establishing the credibility and acceptability of Ferrari’s Classiche restoration shop and certifications. Although it has served its purpose it placed restraints on RM’s dealings in Ferraris and impinged upon Ferrari’s Formula One program in the middle of the season. It was, though, an unprecedented opportunity to visit Maranello with unparalleled access to Ferrari and will be missed.
These developments, and the dossier of important, valuable, significant, desirable cars (along with a few dogs and cats) assembled for RM’s London sale highlights just how important the U.K. and European venues have become for RM Auctions. For many years the traffic was all in the other direction as British-based auction companies migrated to the U.S. in search of inventory and buyers. It took determination, skill, a top-notch staff and years of groundwork to establish its credibility, relationships and financial resources for RM to reverse the flow, but it quickly established itself as a major player on the Continent and in the U.K. and continues to solidify that position.
London 2010 mirrors that success and stature, a high profile auction that has become one of the annual auction calendar’s most important events in only four years.
Automobiles of London 2010 Auction Report – RM Auctions (listed by lot number)
(See Reference – Auctions Explained, A Note on Conditions and Character).