Aston Martin DB5 Sets Record; Gagosian Opens in Paris: Art Buzz

Aston Martin DB5 Vantage
An Aston Martin DB5 Vantage. The coupe sold for 414,500 euros, an auction record for the model, in a Bonhams sale at the "Weekend de l'Excellence Automobile" at Reims-Gueux, the former site of the French Grand Prix. The car had been estmated to sell for between 300,000 euros and 400,000 euros. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

An Aston Martin DB5 coupe has sold for 414,500 euros ($534,373), an auction record for the model.

The silver 1965 was the top lot in a Bonhams auction at the “Weekend de l’Excellence Automobile” at Reims-Gueux, the former site of the French Grand Prix. One of only 17 left-hand drive examples made with the 314 bhp Vantage engine, it had been estimated to fetch 300,000 euros to 400,000 euros. The London- based auction house would not reveal the nationality of the buyer at the Sept. 11 sale.

Exceptional sports cars from the most desirable marques are making record prices as wealthy individuals look to invest in physical objects while financial markets remain turbulent, said dealers.

The auction record for any Aston Martin car is the 23.3 million French francs (then $3.65 million) paid for a 1957 DBR2 Le Mans racer at Christie’s International in Monaco in 1989.

The record is likely to be broken on Oct. 27 when RM Auctions offers the original gadget-packed car that Sean Connery drove in the James Bond films “Goldfinger” and ‘Thunderball.” 007’s factory built coupe, finished in the same shade of Silver Birch as the Bonhams car, though with dummy machine guns, is estimated to fetch as much as $10 million.

Gagosian Paris

Gagosian Gallery Inc., the world’s biggest art dealer by space, is opening a branch in Paris.

The building, designed by the Paris-based architect Jean-Francois Bodin in collaboration with Caruso St. John of London, is at 4, rue de Ponthieu, in the “triangle d’or” 8th arrondissement of the French capital near Christie’s.

It will feature 350 square meters of public exhibition space on two floors, the gallery said in an e-mailed statement. The company, founded by Larry Gagosian in Los Angeles in 1979, now has nine galleries worldwide including New York, Beverly Hills, London, Rome and Athens.

“I love the city of Paris and am delighted to be opening a gallery there,” Gagosian said in the statement. “It is an historical capital of art and is reclaiming its position within the international art circuit through its high quality museum exhibitions and a growing art market.”

The gallery, which lists Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince and Pablo Picasso in its roster of exhibited artists, will open on Oct. 20 to coincide with the beginning of the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC).

Book at $9.2 Million

A copy of the most valuable book ever printed may fetch a record 6 million pounds ($9.2 million) at an auction in London in December.

A first edition of John James Audubon’s early-19th-century illustrated “Birds of America,” in four volumes with 435 hand-colored illustrations, will be offered by Sotheby’s on Dec. 7. In March 2000, Sheikh Saud al-Thani of Qatar paid $8.8 million at Christie’s for another copy, an auction record for any printed work, said Fine Books & Collections Magazine.

The sale will test book auctions’ reputation for being a specialist market less blighted by the financial crisis than more fashionable collecting areas such as contemporary art.

“Because books are printed, they’re a more stable market,” David Goldthorpe, the director of Sotheby’s London-based book department, said. “They have track records and they’re less subject to speculation.”

Hesketh Trust

Sotheby’s Audubon, published in London from 1827 to 1838, is in a well preserved condition in its original lockable subscriber’s binding. It had been bought by Frederick, Baron Hesketh, who died in 1955, for about 7,000 pounds in the 1950s and will be among 50 books and manuscripts being offered by the trust he left.

Hesketh was a “high spot collector” who bought the best books across a range of subjects, Goldthorpe said.

A copy of William Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio was another of Hesketh’s purchases and has an estimate of as much as 1.5 million pounds. Though the text of the plays is complete, it lacks the portrait title page, making it less highly valued than a copy that fetched 2.5 million pounds at Sotheby’s in 2006.

The collection, which also includes four signed letters by Queen Elizabeth I, is estimated to raise as much as 10 million pounds.

The auction record for any book remains the $30.8 million paid by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates for the Leonardo da Vinci manuscript, “Codex Hammer,” at Christie’s, New York, in 1994.

Prints Auction

Fifty-eight works acquired by another “high spot” collector have boosted the upper estimate of Sotheby’s Sept. 16 auction of prints to a record 7.5 million pounds.

The group, which includes works by Picasso and Edvard Munch, was bought by an unidentified European-based art collector during the late 1990s and 2000s, James Mackie, Sotheby’s London-based senior specialist in prints, said.

“He was a very private collector operating below the radar,” Mackie said in an interview.

The prints include an example of Picasso’s 1937 etching “Weeping Woman I,” estimated at 500,000 pounds to 700,000 pounds, as well as a 1902 colored version of Munch’s lithograph “Madonna,” which carries an upper estimate of 450,000 pounds, the New York-based auction house said in an e-mail.

A U.S.-based collector paid 1.3 million pounds for an earlier version of Munch’s “Madonna” at Bonhams in July. The result was more than double the low estimate and a record for any print sold at auction in the U.K.

The 176-lot auction is estimated by Sotheby’s to fetch at least 5.3 million pounds, based on hammer prices. The record total for a print auction in London stands at 6.1 million pounds, achieved at Sotheby’s in March 2006.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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