Monetisation in Monterey
By Rick Carey
$164,206,477: that's the total for Bonhams auction at Quail Lodge, RM Auctions' Sports and Classics of Monterey, Gooding & Company's Pebble Beach Auction and Mecum's sale at the Hyatt. Adding in an approximate total of $7 million claimed by Russo and Steele brings the Monterey week's transactions to just over $170 million.
The Scottsdale 2010 total for Barrett-Jackson, RM and Gooding was $120,769,708, making this the first time that Monterey has eclipsed the January Arizona auctions. This was accomplished by something like 900 cars crossing Monterey's auction blocks, compared with nearly 1,500 in Arizona. The mean sale in Monterey was a whopping $182,000 while in Arizona the vast numbers of middle-market machinery at Barrett-Jackson dragged the average down to just over $83,000, a number that was nearly matched by the average from Mecum's Monterey sale ($75,253) alone.
The Monterey auctions are dominated by the three major players, RM, Bonhams and Gooding. Among them twenty-nine cars brought successful hammer bids of $1 million or more out of thirty-nine with pre-sale low estimates of $1 million or more.
The results for RM, Bonhams and Gooding are exceptional, selling 389 of 461 cars offered, 84.4%. And while the big guns fought it out for supremacy (a battle won by RM with a three- day sale total of $66,007,100 against Gooding & Company's two-day total of $64,592,300; Bonhams secured $18,029,690 in two days at Quail Lodge and Mecum brought in $15,577,387 with sales of 207 cars over two days, a sale rate of 48.7%.
The weekend's disappointment came Saturday evening with RM's dramatically promoted offering of Ferrari 250 TR s/n 0738TR. As the bidding edged above $10 million among three bidders in the room, the screens suddenly showed "Selling without reserve", only to disappear a few bids later. When the Testa Rossa left the block unsold at a reported high bid of $10.6 million (£6,803,600/€8,302,700) - a number, within $500,000 of 0714TR that sold in Maranello a year ago for a hammer bid of $11,102,085 (£7,607,300/€8,200,000 at the time), that seemed to most to be well and truly enough to see it find a new home - the disappointed crowd booed vigorously.
All that is background for Monterey's real import for the collector car market, which is that very good cars, honestly and thoroughly prepared and presented, with solid histories and serious eye-appeal have well-heeled collectors standing in line to own them. Mediocre lots, on the other hand, struggle to find buyers willing to part with serious money for them.
Still, it is a staggering total, and a staggering assembly of outstanding (and expensive) cars with sixty-one cars sold on hammer bids of $500,000 or more, forty-two on hammer bids of €500,000 or more and thirty-five on hammer bids of £500,000 or more. That's just breathtaking.
Rick Carey is the Auctions Editor of Car Collector and Victory Lane magazines. He has been musing on collector car market auction transactions since 1991 and has yet to figure them out.
Images: courtesy Gooding, RM Auctions, Rick Carey, Mark Dixon, Cristián Bertschi, Marcel Massini, Ned Lawler