Revving up: Monaco’s motorsport month celebrated with rare classic car auctions

Coinciding with the racing month of May in Monaco, particularly the Historic Grand Prix this weekend, are incredible car auctions featuring Formula One memorabilia, rare cars, and iconic collections. 

As racing cars of yesteryear navigate their way around the legendary Monaco circuit for the Historic Monaco Grand Prix from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th May, other exclusive events for classic car enthusiasts and racing fans are unfolding in prestigious locations throughout the Principality. 

Interest in these incredible classic cars is growing, says former F1 driver and CEO of Boutsen Classic Cars  Thierry Boutsen, because “people in my generation are very interested in getting back to what they loved in the past and driving and owning the cars they admired when they were young.”

Bonhams Cars Auction at Villa La Vigie, photo by Monaco Life

Bonhams cars at Villa La Vigie

With over three decades of experience, Bonhams Cars stands as a visionary player in the UK’s classic and collectable car auction world, offering a range of platforms including live auctions, online auctions, and private sales. Being part of Bonhams’ global network, the platform enjoys wide reach and specialised support, offering unique selling opportunities at prestigious events. 

Set at the distinguished Villa La Vigie, formerly owned by Karl Lagerfeld, Bonhams Cars took up residence for their 31st auction in the Principality, scheduled for the 10th of May, with a preview of the lots held on the 9th of May. 

“There is something for everyone”

“This edition brings together a magnificent selection of cars… there is something for everyone, all with quality and proven provenance,” Philip Kantor, International chairman of Bonhams Cars, told Monaco Life. 

Thierry Boutsen in his office in Monaco, photo by Monaco Life

Some jaw-dropping rare pieces are featured in the 31st edition. Thierry Boutsen’s own 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago is going under the hammer. “It’s very famous as it is the very last Lamborghini made by Lamborghini without the help of Audi,” revealed Thierry to Monaco Life. 

Another notable lot is a one-of-a-kind 2012 Smart Fortwo City Car from the personal collection of Sir Roger Moore. Sir Moore, a resident of Monaco, used to drive this car around the Principality until he passed away in 2002. Sir Roger Moore is said to have loved this car because he could drive around inconspicuously, commenting once, “The bigger the star, the smaller the car!” 

This rare piece is estimated to sell for €5,000, without reserve. The Bonhams auction will take place on 10th May at 3pm. “An auction is a little bit like a game as there is a lot of tension and emotions,” revealed Thierry Boutsen. 

Rare Finds: Steffan Wittmark Collection goes under Artcurial’s hammer

Over at the Fairmont Hotel, 44 magnificent lots were auctioned off, all from one Swedish collector, The Steffan Wittmark Collection. The auction took place on the afternoon of 9th May by Artcurial Motorcars.

One lot that stood out is the stunning 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, with a price estimate of between €8.5 million and €12 million, without reserve, making it the most expensive lot of the auction. 

“During the Historic Grand Prix, there is a mix of racers and passionate car enthusiasts, so it was a logical decision to schedule the auction right before the race,” Pierre Novikoff, Deputy Director of Artcurial Motorcars, told Monaco Life. “This timing was exactly what we were looking for.”

As for the ideal timing with the Historic Grand Prix, Thierry Boutsen adds, “The dynamic is there because of the race, which brings that racing spirit. People want to achieve something and if they cannot achieve it on the tracks, then they can achieve it by buying a special car.” 

1962 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta SWB at Artcurial Motorcars auction, photo by Monaco Life

RM Sothebys Car Auction

Returning for the seventh time on 10th and 11th May, is RM Sotheby’s Monaco auction at the Grimaldi Forum, showcasing 115 automotive lots, including treasures from Formula 1 World Champion Jody Scheckter’s personal collection and iconic hypercars like the McLaren Elva and Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4. 

Another notable lot is 148, a piece of motorsport history – the 1981 Porsche 917 K-81. This car represents a daring attempt to resurrect the legendary Porsche 917 for competition at the Circuit de la Sarthe. With its recent engine rebuild and potential for redemption, it presents a unique opportunity for collectors and enthusiasts to own a piece of racing heritage with untapped potential. With an estimated value ranging from €3,500,000 to €5,000,000, lot 148 will attract attention from those who appreciate the significance of the Porsche 917 in motorsport history. 

“…everybody enjoys driving in Monaco”

As the Historic Monaco Grand Prix is about to kick off and classic car enthusiasts gather from all corners of the world, Thierry Boutsen concludes, “The most important point of a weekend like the Historic Monaco Grand Prix is that everybody enjoys driving in Monaco. For me, you can’t beat that great feeling, the presence of so many classic cars, and the spectators who come here to enjoy them.”

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Main photo: Thierry Boutsen’s own 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago, by Monaco Life