Ferrari 250 GT snapped up for $5.5m

A Ferrari bought new by Roger Vadim, the movie director and actor who discovered and married Brigitte Bardot, sold last night for about €4.5 million ($5.5 million) with fees  as choosy investors bought rare classic cars.

The silver 250 California GT LWB, dating from 1959, was among 80 cars offered by the Paris auction house Artcurial. The event was timed to coincide with Retromobile, France's biggest commercial show devoted to classic vehicles, at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in southwest Paris.

Investors are looking to rare autos as an alternative to volatile financial markets. Still, the Paris auctions saw few lots sell above valuations, suggesting that the market for more routine classics remains highly selective. Collectible cars often fetch higher prices through discreet transactions than at public auctions, dealers said.

The Italian convertible was bought by a telephone buyer, underbid by a UK bidder, after being valued at €3 million to €4 million. Its hammer price was €4 million. The car was latterly owned by another French film director Jean- Claude Bajol, a Ferrari collector, who died last year. The auction fetched €14.5 million, Artcurial said after the event, beating an estimate of at least €11.5 million.

One of the sale's surprises was a 1965 cream-colour Citroen 2CV, which had recorded only 116 miles. It fetched €59,600 against an estimate of €30,000 to €40,000.

Hammer prices
A Bonhams sale of classic cars and motorcycles the previous evening at La Halle Freyssinet in the southeast of Paris raised 7.2 million euros with fees against a low estimate of €10.7 million, based on hammer prices.

The most highly valued lot - a 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Coupe in silver, priced at a minimum of 1.1 million euros - failed to find a buyer at the auction. It was sold immediately afterwards for €1 million with fees and was included in the final total, London-based Bonhams said.

A 1965 Citroen DS21 Cabriolet, with a low estimate of €150,000, was among the 39 per cent of the 258 lots that were unsuccessful. Most of the autos that sold were knocked down for hammer prices below their forecasts.

Car dealers at Retromobile earlier said a Ferrari (FERI) GTO - one of 36 produced by the Italian company in 1962 to 1963 - was sold privately in the UK within the last two weeks to an unidentified buyer for about $29 million.


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