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Jaguar Leads $18 Million Auction; Pearson Family Sale: Art Buzz

A 1964
A 1964 "Semi-Lightweight" hardtop Jaguar E-Type was offered by Bonhams at its Sept. 16 auction of classic autos, held during the Goodwood Revival Meeting in Sussex. Capable of 165 mph, it was one of just two road models built as variants of the 12 "Lightweight" E-Type competition cars that the factory created to take on Ferrari at Le Mans and other sports car races. The car failed to sell. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A rare Jaguar E-type is the top lot in an $18 million sale that will today test demand for classic cars as prices rise to records.

The 1963 “Semi-Lightweight” hardtop Jaguar E-Type leads 89 vehicles offered by Bonhams at the annual Goodwood Revival festival in Sussex, England. The gray E-Type, one of two road models built as variants of the 12 competition cars the factory created to take on Ferrari at Le Mans, may fetch as much as 2 million pounds ($3.16 million).

The sale comes after Gooding & Co., RM Auctions and Bonhams raised $166.7 million from their Monterey events in August. The total was up from $150.2 million in 2010. A 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa was sold by Gooding for $16.4 million, a record for any car at auction.

“Those results confirmed the market is healthy,” said Dietrich Hatlapa, the founder of price database Historic Automobile Group International and the author of “Better than Gold: Investing in Historic Cars.” “An increasing number of people are looking to buy tangible assets,” he said.

The Jaguar offered today has a claimed top speed of 165 mph and was made for the shipping magnate Robert Ropner. It has its original paintwork and hasn’t been offered at auction before.

Other highlights of the sale include a Lister-Jaguar racer that dominated the Sports Car Club of America championships of 1958 and 1959, and a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 being sold by singer Shane Filan, of the Irish pop band Westlife. These carry upper estimates of 1 million pounds and 300,000 pounds respectively. The auction total is valued at as much as 11 million pounds.

Pearson Family

Paintings and antiques belonging to members of the family that founded media group Pearson Plc raised 7.9 million pounds in a three-day auction at Cowdray Park, West Sussex.

The 1,212-lot Christie’s International sale, which ended last night, combined the contents of Lord Cowdray’s ancestral home with items from Dunecht, the house of his brother Charles Pearson. The presale estimate was about 5 million pounds.

Portraits were the most valuable lots. A painting of a lady thought to be Catherine Carey, Countess of Nottingham, was the most expensive at 325,250 pounds. Made by an English artist in about 1600, it was priced at 250,000 pounds to 350,000 pounds.

Among the quirkier ``country house'' lots was a set of 11 late-19th-century fire helmets and an ax from Dunecht in Scotland. These sold for 4,750 pounds against an estimate of 1,500 pounds to 2,500 pounds. Buyers hailed from 34 different countries and 93 percent of the lots were sold.

Cowdray Park, which is itself up for sale for 25 million pounds, was bought by Weetman Dickinson Pearson, the first Lord Cowdray, a Yorkshire-born engineer and oil magnate, in 1908.

Auctions Watched

Auctions of contemporary art and wine in London this week were being watched for signs of whether the turmoil in financial markets has affected demand for alternative investments.

Contemporary art and wine were two of the auction market's biggest growth areas in 2010.

The risk of an economic crisis could stall growth in the market for contemporary art, London-based analyst ArtTactic said in July. Similar concerns have been raised by brokers about the sustainability of record auction prices being paid by Asian bidders for trophy-label Bordeaux such as Lafite and Latour.

“We were all wondering how the sale would do,” said Darren Leak, the specialist in charge of Christie’s mid-season Sept. 14 offering of contemporary artworks priced at less than 200,000 pounds. “The results turned out to be fine, though a lot of reserves were lowered and there was less demand for some of the younger artists.”

Sale Total

Christie’s sale raised 2.9 million pounds, with 67 percent of the 264 lots selling. Last year’s equivalent event totaled 2 million pounds with 68 percent successful.

The top price was 181,250 pounds, paid for the 1997 work “Jogo de Velha Serie C 8A (Tic-Tac-Toe Serie C 8A),” made of wooden rulers by the Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles. The price, paid by a Brazilian buyer, was three times the low estimate.

Banksy's 2002 landscape titled ``Bird and Grenade'' was snapped up by an Asian commission bidder for 145,250 pounds against an upper estimate of 50,000 pounds.

Elsewhere, bargains were to be had. The 6-foot (1.8 meter) canvas ``Young Purpurea,'' by the London-based Japanese artist Masakatsu Kondo, was knocked down for 250 pounds after being valued at 2,500 pounds to 3,500 pounds.

Demand for contemporary art will be examined again by offerings at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury & Co. in New York next week.

Also on Sept. 14, Sotheby’s saw reduced levels of Asian bidding at a 459-lot wine sale.

Asian Buyers

Asian buyers secured eight of the 10 most expensive lots at the company’s two-day “40th Anniversary” auction last September. A year later, only one of the top 10 lots -- a case of six magnums of 1996 Lafite -- was bought by an Asian bidder. It sold within estimate for 13,800 pounds.

“There wasn’t so much bidding from that region,” Stephen Mould, Sotheby’s European head of wine, said in an interview. ``They've paid some exceptional prices over the last year or so and maybe they're casting their nets wider. Lafite prices have leveled off a bit.''

The sale totaled 886,454 pounds with fees against a low estimate of 961,000 pounds, based on hammer prices. Last year, selling rates of more than 90 percent were the norm at international wine sales. Here, 84.5 percent of the lots were successful.

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

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at

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