Mercedes May Fetch $3.2 Million, Apple Computer $127,000

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-type
A 1928 Mercedes-Benz S-type. The car, owned by the same English family for the last 84 years, was sold in a Bonhams auction at Goodwood, Sussex, on Sept. 15, 2012. The winning bid, with fees, was the equivalent of $4.5 million and above estimate. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

Classic cars by Ferrari, Mercedes and Lagonda will be auctioned in the U.K. as the market for collectible autos absorbs the impact of this summer’s record $263.3 million sales in California.

An unrestored 1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type may fetch as much as 2 million pounds ($3.2 million). It is the most highly estimated car among 84 being offered by Bonhams in its annual “Goodwood Revival” event in Sussex.

Proceeds at this month’s sales by Russo and Steele, Bonhams, Mecum, RM Auctions and Gooding & Co. were 33 percent higher than in 2011, according to figures supplied by the Geneva-based car dealer Kidston SA.

“Though both the headline prices and selling rates were higher, auctioneers often had to work harder,” the company’s founder Simon Kidston said in an interview. “Too many sellers are getting ahead of themselves in a bullish market.”

Bonhams’s Mercedes, a German four-seat tourer that dealers dub the Bugatti Veyron of its day, has been owned by the same English family since it was purchased in 1928.

Kept for decades in a purpose-built garage, the car has only 8,375 miles on its odometer. The estimate would have been considerably higher had the 1920s coachwork been made by Mercedes, rather than Cadogan Motors of London, dealers said.

The Bonhams sale on Sept. 15 will also include a restored V12 team Lagonda that came fourth in the 1939 Le Mans 24-Hour race. Damaged by a V1 “Doodlebug” flying bomb in 1944, it is estimated at more than 1 million pounds.

Ferrari Demand

RM and Gooding both found buyers for more than 89 percent of their lots in California, with increased demand especially for Ferrari road cars from the 1950s and 1960s. A 1960 “competition” 250 GT California Spyder sold for $11.3 million at Gooding.

Prewar cars drew the most selective bidding. A 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster estimated at as much as $16 million fell to a single bid of $11.8 million with fees at Gooding. A 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupe formerly owned by the Hollywood star Clark Gable failed to sell against an estimate of more than $9 million.

“There aren’t many people around who still remember these vehicles and haven’t gone to the great car park in the sky,” Kidston said. “The market’s more focused on the 1950s and 1960s. Everyone collects Ferraris. People find safety in numbers.”

Original Apple

An original 1976 Apple personal computer is estimated at as much as 80,000 pounds (or $127,000) at an auction.

The Apple-1 machine, one of about 200 designed and built by Steve Wozniak, is being offered from the estate of former Apple employee Joe Copson at Christie’s International in London on Oct. 9. Lacking the original box, it has a low estimate of 50,000 pounds.

“It’s an interesting object,” Saf Waterman, a director of the London-based scientific instrument dealers Trevor Philip & Sons, said in an interview. “So far, though, they’re a very small part of the market. There aren’t enough of them and not many people want to put an old computer in their living room. It’s more of a museum piece.”

Fewer than 50 of the Apple-1 model are thought to survive, said Christie’s. Another version, complete with its original box and a signed letter from Steve Jobs, the company co-founder, sold at Christie’s for 133,250 pounds in 2010.

Financier’s Ship

U.S. financier Tom Perkins, a former director of News Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., is among the sellers at Sotheby’s inaugural “Collections” auction in London.

The Sept. 27 sale has more than 300 lots of artworks and antiques from five separate private collections that are estimated to raise more than 1.7 million pounds.

Perkins, 80, is a founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. His Elizabethan manor, Plumpton Place in Sussex, England, contained a meter-high (3-foot) solid-silver model of a 16th-century sailing ship, now valued at 15,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds.

In 2006 Perkins took delivery of the 289-foot sailing yacht “Maltese Falcon,” then the biggest privately owned boat of its kind. He sold it to Elena Ambrosiadou of the London-based hedge fund Ikos Asset Management Ltd. in July 2009.

Sotheby’s plans to capitalize on buyers’ desire for pieces from prestigious sources. Prices for individual lots range from 500 pounds to 100,000 pounds. A second “Collections” sale is planned for the spring of 2013, the New York auction house said.

(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 Jason Harper on autos, Richard Vines on food and Rich Jaroslovsky on technology.

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