A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO made for race driver Stirling Moss has become the world’s most expensive car, selling in a private transaction last month for $35 million.
The distinctive apple-green Ferrari, one of 39 GTOs produced from 1962 to 1964, is listed among May’s high-end sales at anamera.com, a website for classic car dealers. Two specialist traders last night independently confirmed the transaction and price to Bloomberg News.
The car was sold with the last two weeks by the Dutch-born businessman Eric Heerema, owner of the Nyetimber vineyard in Sussex, southern England. The buyer is U.S.-based classic car collector Craig McCaw, the dealers said. Heerema was not available for comment when Nyetimber was contacted by Bloomberg News. McCaw was also unavailable for comment when his company Eagle River Investments was telephoned.
“The market is very active at the moment,” said James Cottingham, acquisition consultant for Ferrari dealer DK Engineering, based in Hertfordshire, U.K. “A lot of new buyers are expanding their collections and the baby-boomer generation of collectors has reached an age when they’re not using their cars as much as they used to. They want to sell.”
McCaw, who is based in the Seattle area, was the co-founder of McCaw Cellular, which was acquired by AT&T for $11.5 billion in 1993.
There has been a flurry of big-ticket Ferrari sales through private transactions during the last two months. The Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa in which the U.S. driver Phil Hill won the 1958 Le Mans 24-Hour race was sold by the French collector Pierre Bardinon for about $25 million, according to anamera.com.
A Ferrari 250 GTO bought by U.K. television and radio host Chris Evans for about $18 million in 2010 has been sold for a million-dollar price “in the high 20s,” dealers said.
“I’ve heard of eight Ferraris selling for a total of $135 million during the last eight weeks,” John Collins of the U.K., Ascot-based dealership Talacrest Ltd. said in an interview.
“It’s difficult to find cars at the moment,” said Collins, who was directly involved in five of these high-end sales. “The Arabs have started buying because of Formula One and the Chinese have now entered the market.”
The green GTO had been acquired by Heerema a decade ago for about $8.5 million from the Japanese collector Yoshiho Matsuda, who was also the previous owner of Evans’s Ferrari, dealers said.
Matsuda acquired the ex-Moss racer in 1999 from Talacrest, who bought the car for $3.5 million in 1996.
“I kept on looking at it in my showroom, thinking I paid too much,” said Collins.
The 250 GTO, created in 1962 to compete at the Le Mans 24-Hour and other Grand-Touring car races, is regarded by collectors as the most desirable of all classic Ferraris. Motor Trend Classic magazine placed the 250 GTO first on a list of the “Greatest Ferraris of all time” in 2010.
Heerema’s example, with a chassis numbered 3505, was made by the Ferrari factory in 1962 for the U.K. racer Moss, whose name is scrawled on the back of the right-hand driver’s seat.
The car was painted in the pale-green livery of Moss’s UDT-Laystall race team. Moss suffered a career-ending crash at the Goodwood circuit in Sussex on April 23, 1962, in a race just prior to taking the wheel of his new Ferrari.
The car was raced by his fellow U.K. driver Innes Ireland at the 1962 Le Mans, where it retired.
The record had been held by a 1936 Type 57SC Bugatti Atlantic, bought by the California-based collector Peter Mullin in another private transaction in 2010 for an undisclosed price between $30 million and $34 million.
Mullin, when interviewed by Bloomberg News in February, wouldn’t divulge the precise sum he paid for the Bugatti.
In January, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO numbered 5095 was sold by the U.K.-based businessman Jon Hunt, former chief executive of the Foxtons real-estate group, for about $32 million, dealers with knowledge of the matter said.
Prices for classic Ferraris increased 4.82 percent in the first quarter of 2012, according to data compiled by the London-based Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI).
Ferrari SpA remains the top brand for both established collectors and wealthy individuals looking to diversify their investments. New buyers appreciate the security of a big carmaker that still exists and private sales appeal to some rather than the spotlight of public auctions.
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include: Lewis Lapham on history, Zinta Lundborg’s New York weekend, Mark Beech’s London weekend.