Sunday, October 26, 2008


I'll fill in more details later, but when I visited the preview and auction of the Bonhams Petersen Museum sale, I had a feeling that canny buyers would be walking away with bargains, as quite a few bikes present were for sale with 'no reserve', and the hall was not full.

I also wanted to downgrade my estimate on the Blue Bike to $320,000 - which is below low estimate. I haven't heard the high bid yet, as I didn't stay for the auction (other business!), and I've only just arrived home, so will post the last bid when I speak with spectators. I do see that it failed to sell... so my notes on 'just who will be bidding?' have proved prescient at least. I note that two other Vincent twins in the auction failed to sell... either their reserves were too high, or given the current climate, the Vincent bubble has just hit the ceiling. I watched this happen in 1990, when Vincent values were approaching the $80k mark for real Black Shadows, then dropped way back down to $30k by '92. If I wanted to buy a Vincent twin, I would wait a few months. If I wanted to sell a Vincent, I'd wait a few years!

Someone walked away with a restored '58 Harley Panhead for $9,600 - which is half price by any reckoning. A shocking number of the bikes and cars simply failed to sell.

One bike which did sell was this '49 Triumph Tiger 100, which I had imported from Australia in 2001, and sold for $9500 that year, with a sidecar. The Tiger solo, 7 years later, sold for $10,530.

Fred Lange's beautiful Indian 8-valve replica sold for $64,350, which is more than the 'Art of the Motorcycle' 8-valve which was also in the sale ($57,330). The catalog wasn't clear that the Guggenheim bike had cylinder heads from Fred's shop! But of course, any prospective buyer would have done their due diligence before bidding.

The knock-on effect of all this? I would assume the Rollie Free Bike will not come up for auction this year, as has been rumored. Also, given the dramatic rise of the dollar this week, foreign buyers were priced out of the high estimates... perhaps they should have used £s in the catalog! When you're talking a 20% rise in the dollar since the catalog was published, at a $400,000 price tag, that's a lot of money tacked on if you're paying in euros.
More analysis tomorrow...


Anonymous said...

oops bonhams sale lol , i went over the sales list and boy were the prices down , but then again i think it was mostly due to bonhams not the current fiscal problems the catolouge was lack luster to say the least , i think sellers will be looking to other houses , i think they dont know the market as well as they think they do , the deardon and the blue one should have been in the same sale or held over till the free bike comes on the market and make a super sale that would pull in a lot of intrest from the media , if i was selling the bikes i would have put it about the media for months had a graphics designer make me a folder and took the buggers to barrett jackson in las vegas last week they were all over the speed channel for four days , then i would hire alan c of spitfire fame to do a couple burn outs in the parking lot and be the cheer leader to tell the story of the bikes , i think you would have seen a million pass hands on two vinnies i could see the spitfire ducker now making a half hour show on just the provenance , and with barrett jacksons address book its a home win lol dave

Anonymous said...

Hello Paul,

Just a hello from Holland.
Surfing the net, found your website/blog, and had a few hours of reading haha!!

I ride a 1929 New Hudson myself, and my wife rides an 1928 AJS.
Now we're looking for a pre 1915 machine and enjoy the lively veteran scene here

Keep up the nice work!

Martin and Monique Jonink

Anonymous said...

having missed the deardon price by 3k i,m feeling cocky lol ub we now go into a grey area in europe there is more of a historical sense towards racing bikes but less money , and thats were the most iconic bikes are , forget the hondas , they are mostly out of reach , forget the guzzi v8 , i would go for a real race winner , a matching pair of gileras ridden by duke ? a lomas single cylinder guzzi , a phil read 4 cyl 250 yamaha , or better still the 351 4 cyl yamaha a real giant killer , of course a twin 50 cc suki would fetch a record in holland , of course theres always slippery sam or whats left of it , or on the second tier the dunstall domiracer , which was a works bike that was sold when the race dept closed , but i doubt if it exists as it was bought as parts with a whole bunch of stuff and cobbled together , dave