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Bonhams, Le Grand Palais, Paris 7 February

Though it couldn’t find a buyer for the centrepiece Bugatti Type 54 in the spectacular embrace of the Grand Palais during Retromobile week, Bonhams did set a new world record for a Gipsy Moth.

Bonhams, Le Grand Palais, Paris 7 February

The biplane - a 1929 American Moth Corporation De Havilland 60GMW that featured in the Oscar-winning film Out of Africa - is on its way back there having sold to Kenya for £171,264, a new world record for the type. Bonhams’ second visit to the historic automotive venue, home of 48 Paris Motor Shows between 1901 and 1961, realised just short of £11 million from 86 cars out of 125 selling for a 69% sale rate, plus 84 motorcycles and more than 100 lots of automobilia.

Top cars were a 1929 Bentley 6½-litre Speed Six Tourer, a veteran of the Around the World in 80 Days motoring marathon in 2000 and still in rally trim that beat its pre-sale estimate to realise £704,628, a slightly tired 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Vantage convertible with hardtop that more than doubled its estimate at £685,000, and the 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Coupé formerly owned by Ettore himself sold for £587,000. But bidding on the Type 54, a 4.9-litre Grand Prix monster that’s appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, stalled about £1/2m short of the £2.5m-plus needed to buy it. There was better news on the Porsche 906, as the 1966 sports racer sold for £460,000, and a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K with cabriolet coachwork by Vanden Plas was £572,510. A De Tomaso Mangusta, one of two offered, reached £78,089 while a rare Trident Clipper sold for £41,103. Bonhams also fielded a Citroen DS Decapotable by Chapron, which sold for £137,990.

The collection of former architect Charles H Brown realised over £1 million, with the top-selling lot a 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sports tourer at £411,000 and a 1977 Stutz Blakchawk £21,530. A 1928 Rolls-Royce ‘Playboy Roadster’ that was formerly in the collection of property developer Jerry J Moore realised £244,633, and a Ferrari 246GT once the property of Belgian Ferrari importer Jacques Swaters of Garage Francorchamps, fetched a strong £210,410. Nestling among the restoration projects but still looking a little lost within the massive space, a nicely restored 1931 Citroen Kegresse half-track with trailer attracted much interest but could not reach its £140,000 lower estimate.

For the first time, Bonhams added a Decorative Arts auction before the automobilia and motorcycles, adding up to a marathon 11-hour sale by the time the last car, a 1962 Jaguar E-type coupe, was hammered sold for £26,424.

Philip Kantor, Head of the Mainland European Motoring department, said: ‘We are delighted to have returned to the Grand Palais, the spiritual home of not only motor cars but also aeroplanes in the centre of Paris.’

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Bonhams, Le Grand Palais, Paris 7 February
  Bonhams, Le Grand Palais, Paris 7 February
Bonhams, Le Grand Palais, Paris 7 February
  Bonhams, Le Grand Palais, Paris 7 February


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