May has been a momentous month: Christie’s Auctions during three days of sales, sold $1.36 billion of artwork. Individual pieces sold for $30+M, $50+M, even $179.4 million, establishing a new highest-price ever paid at auction. How it happened – with Christie’s providing its most valued consignors guaranteed prices – offers interesting glimpses into what may be happening at the highest levels as well in the automobile auction world. It reiterates how collectible value has morphed into asset. That said, these buyers cannot take their Picasso for a drive. And for the most part it still seems automobile collectors acquire their cars with that in mind. Yet the value of many of these pieces of rolling sculpture has risen dramatically as well.
In this issue, we will look at what this has done to our hobby.
Can you remember the automobile posters you had on your walls when you were in college? We polled some readers and developed a list of cars that served as framework for surveying auction price changes from 2012 through activities as recent as May 23, 2015, in Italy. As one observer put it, the role of memory is significant in guiding these purchases. People buy cars for usability but 30, 40, or 50 years ago, using them was our fantasy. As we fantasize about cars – and indeed as we experience them and life since then – we change. It might be very interesting to know what posters our readers would hang now? Or is it original art from a recent Christie’s auction?
First off in this issue, however, fellow auction observer Richard Newton will follow up his primer on auction strategy from RSM’s May edition – as a consignor – with the latest installment: How to be a buyer.
As this issue appears in your e-mail, most of the auction houses have just closed their August sale consignment lists. There still is plenty of time, however, to register as a buyer.
Our next story examines a single car as an object lesson in automotive archeology. Then to finish this issue, we take a look at what all these auction results suggest about the practice of automotive flipping, quick resales for profit-taking.
Editor, Road Scholars Magazine