The Bonhams Bothwell Collection auction was staged November 11, 2017 at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California, resulting in more than $13.7 million in total sales and a 100 percent sell-through rate.
It’s the last of the kind — a self-contained 16-acre working citrus farm, ringed with towering palm trees, sprinkled with WWII-era ranch buildings, situated just over the hill from Los Angeles. The oasis of green and calm is surrounded on every side by suburbs; a hold-out from a half-century of rapid development and a rare window into early 20th century southern California life.
This is the Bothwell Ranch where Bonhams auctioned the collection of Lindley and Ann Bothwell under blue skies. Consisting of what is one of the world’s most important assemblies of pre-Great War racing automobiles, not to mention an assortment of Brass Era touring cars, horse-drawn street cars, and one of the best collections of early model trains in the world, the Bothwell Collection — and its setting — is without equal.
The Bothwells began forming the collection in the 1930s and most of the cars have been in these private hands for more than half a century. And so, with what Bonhams’ Chairman Malcolm Barber aptly called a “generational opportunity,” vast numbers of enthusiasts came to the property to preview the cars placed amid the orange groves, marvel at the history, and enjoy a lovely day bidding on railwayana, automobilia and rare automobiles.
Bidders in the audience came from as far away as New Zealand and Holland, while bidders on the telephones and internet spanned the world. The extensive collection of automobilia was 100 percent sold, making more than triple the low estimate. The collection of street cars and the locomotive too were 100 percent sold, with the narrow-gauge Baldwin engine making $187,500 — more than eight times its low estimate.
The collection of 50 automobiles was also 100 percent sold. Among all the cars that stood out for their rarity, racing provenance, movie star cameos or a combination of them all, the highlight by far was the 1914 Peugeot L45 Grand Prix Racer. Having influenced so many legendary builders, from Ettore Bugatti to Harry Miller, this innovative French automobile has been called by many the father of all race cars. From the onset, bidding was brisk and never faltered. Finally, the winning bid was made by a private American collector for $7.26-million — a new auction record for the marque.
Another highlight included the 1909 Benz Prinz Heinrich Raceabout, formerly owned by Barney Oldfield, that found a new home with a West Coast collection for $1.87-million, also achieving a new world auction record for the marque. Many more highlights punctuated the sale with most of the pre-First War racing cars exceeding — many times doubling or even tripling — their low estimates.
“We are delighted with the outcome,” said Rupert Banner, Bonhams VP of Motoring. “We’re grateful for the confidence placed in us by the Bothwell family trustees and pleased to see the strength in the market. The Bothwell Collection was quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was a privilege to be a part of history.”
Bonhams Bothwell Collection – Top Five Auction Results
- 1914 Peugeot L45 Grand Prix Racer – $7,260,000
- 1909 Benz Prinz Heinrich Raceabout – $1,870,000
- 1908 Mercedes-Simplex 65HP Two-Seater Raceabout – $1,072,500
- 1902 Packard Model G Four-Passenger Surrey – $423,500
- 1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Open Drive Landaulette – $385,000
For a complete list of results, visit Bonhams.com/Bothwell.