McCartney’s Lamborghini for Sale; Bacon Priced $18 Million

Lamborghini 400GT 2 + 2
A 1967 Lamborghini 400GT 2 + 2 described as formerly owned by Paul McCartney. On July 1 it was included in the 19th auction of classic cars held by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

A Lamborghini formerly owned by Paul McCartney may fetch as much as $200,000 as Beatles fans and car collectors are lured by an automobile auction in the U.K.

The 400GT 2+2 is included in the annual Bonhams sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex on July 1. Dealers said the Italian manufacturer’s cars have been selling well, though the car’s price may be influenced by its ownership.

Exceptional sports cars are making record prices, said dealers. McCartney was the car’s first buyer, according to books on the Italian marque. The vehicle was originally orange, as befitted a car made in 1967, the year of “Sergeant Pepper” and the Summer of Love. It is formally estimated to fetch between 100,000 pounds and 120,000 pounds, entered by a Suffolk-based collector who bought it in 1979.

“Collectors always like to buy the cars they grew up with,” said Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI), a London-based research company. “There’s been a generational shift and wealthy people in their 40s and 50s are now pushing up the prices of sports models from the 1960s and 70s.”

In October, RM Auctions sold a yellow 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV, whose first owner had been the singer Rod Stewart, for 694,400 pounds ($1.1 million) against an upper forecast of 560,000 pounds.

McCartney may not have kept the car for more than three years, according to Stewart Skilbeck, a Bonhams motoring specialist, though the original log book hasn’t been retained.

The four-seater 400GT was the second model created by the Italian industrialist Ferruccio Lamborghini, who began producing sports cars in competition with Ferrari in 1963.

Lamborghini Demand

Lamborghinis were in demand on May 21 when RM Auctions held an inaugural sale at the Concorso d’Eleganza at the Villa d’Este, Cernobbio, in the Italian Lakes.

The Italian car designer Bertone SpA entered about half a dozen cars from its corporate collection, including the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal prototype which Prince Ranier and Princess Grace drove at the start of that year’s Monaco Grand Prix. It sold for 1.5 million euros ($2.2 million) with fees against an estimate of as much as 1.5 million euros at hammer prices. The 32-lot auction raised 23 million euros, with the Lamborghini among six cars that fetched more than 1 million euros, said RM.

“Though the volume of trading is healthy, there hasn’t been anything too dramatic in terms of individual results,” said Hatlapa. The HAGI Top 50 index of exceptional classic cars increased 0.82 percent in April with Ferrari singled out as the main gainer. The index has risen 1.1 percent since the beginning of 2011, said the Historic Automobile Group International.

“Ferrari continues to do well,” said Hatlapa. “The car has become the equivalent of Warhol in the art market. People want to park their money in tangibles and they don’t want to take any risks. They go for blue-chip names.”

Bacon Price

A 1953 painting of a suited man is the latest Francis Bacon to come on the market as owners aim to capitalize on strengthening auction prices for the U.K.’s most expensive contemporary artist.

“Study for a Portrait,” a precursor of the Irish-born artist’s “Pope” paintings, will be offered in Christie’s International’s June 28 sale of contemporary works in London with an estimate of 11 million pounds ($18 million). The canvas has been on show in Hong Kong.

“We believe it will attract significant Asian interest,” Francis Outred, Christie’s European head of contemporary art, said in an interview. “Chinese artists often quote Bacon as an influence, and it’s the sort of work that appeals to collectors who like both contemporary and more traditional art.”

Swiss Collector

The painting is being sold by an unidentified European collector, who acquired it from the London-based dealer Marlborough Fine Art in 1984, said Christie’s. The seller is the Swiss entrepreneur and art collector Donald M. Hess, 75, according to the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Never offered at auction before, the Bacon was included in a 1987 retrospective at the Galerie Beyeler in Basel. The estate of the gallery’s founder, Ernst Beyeler, who died last year aged 88, is another Swiss seller next month at Christie’s.

Beyeler opened his gallery in 1945 and sold more than 16,000 works by some of the greatest names of 20th-century art over a period of 65 years. He was also one of the co-founders of Art Basel, whose first edition was in 1970. The dealership closed earlier this month.

Art Basel

“His influence was huge,” the London-based dealer Richard Nagy said in an interview. “Art Basel changed the landscape, and unlike other famous dealers such as Heinz Berggruen, he was a trader first, and a collector second. He didn’t take kindly to people buying from other galleries.”

About 110 works from the estate of the dealer and his late wife Hildy will be offered at Christie’s sales of Impressionist and modern art on June 21 and June 22. All proceeds will benefit the Fondation Beyeler, the Renzo Piano-designed museum in Basel that opened in 1997.

Highlights will include a 1945 Alexander Calder “Wood Stabile” that Beyeler kept on his desk, said Christie’s. This is estimated at 350,000 pounds to 450,000 pounds, while the 1946 Pablo Picasso painting, “Buste de Francoise,” is valued at 7 million pounds to 10 million pounds. Beyeler was one of the few individuals whom Picasso allowed to select works from his studio, said Christie’s.

The most highly priced work in the group is a Claude Monet “Nympheas” painting, tagged at 17 million pounds to 24 million pounds. Another, larger “Nympheas” canvas occupies pride of place in a gallery overlooking the pond at the front of the Fondation Beyeler.

Paintings and drawings by Alberto Giacometti, Paul Klee, Fernand Leger, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Pierre-Auguste Renoir are also included. They range in estimate from 200,000 pounds to 8.5 million pounds.

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

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE