Gooding & Company, Pebble Beach, August 20-21, 2011
Report by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
The 2011 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction was a milestone in car collecting, let alone one in collector car auctions.
In two evenings Gooding recorded $78 million in sales, 84.25% sold and set the two most important auction records:
- The record for an automobile at auction with the sale of 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa s/n 0666 TR for $14.9 million hammer, $16,390,000 with commission; and
- The record for an American car at auction with the sale of 1932 Duesenberg Model J Long Wheelbase Coupe by Murphy chassis #2478, engine # J-460, for $9.4 million hammer, $10,340,000 with commission.
The result achieved by Gooding for the Testa Rossa is a great achievement, especially since the reserve was met at a $12 million bid and the contest between an anonymous bidder outside the tent concealed from the curious gazes of onlookers and represented in the person of Gooding’s Specialist Jakob Greisen and a telephone bidder speaking through Fiona Spence continued in $100,000 increments until the on-site (but out-of-sight) bidder declined to take the step to $15 million.
In terms of the record, however, adjustment for inflation and exchange rates still rates the famed sale by Christie’s of the Bugatti Type 41 Royale Kellner Coupe at the top of the pile.
The Bugatti brought £5,500,000 with commission at Royal Albert Hall on November 19, 1987. The U.S. Consumer Price Index (less food and energy) has grown from 120.4 in 1987 to 225.46 in 2011, an increase of 87.7%. The little table below shows that, no matter how it’s figured, the Royale still rules, and by a margin large enough to add another very nice Ferrari to a collection.
So, no matter which way it’s calculated, the 2011 price of Ferrari Testa Rossa 0666 TR is at least $691,873 less expensive ($17,081,873 – $16,390,000) in current purchasing power than the Bugatti Royale.
That is something of a quibble in a momentous transaction, however, and a wonderful Pebble Beach Auction, but a meaningful quibble during a time when the word “investment” keeps creeping into the vocabularies of collectors, dealers, brokers and auctioneers.
Twelve cars sold for hammer bids over $1 million. The benchmark sale of the Testa Rossa firmly establishes Ferrari as the preeminent marque in collectors’ hierarchy, as significantly so does the sale of the Duesenberg ‘Whittell Coupe’ move Duesenberg into the stratosphere of collector car values.
By every measure Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auction was a landmark event during a whirlwind weekend full of transactions that enhanced collectors’ expectations and measures of value.
Gooding & Company Pebble Beach 2011 – Auction Report