Motorcycle Classics

Bonhams' Legend Auction Sets Records

The Bonhams’ Legend auction on May 3rd totalled nearly $2-million, setting World Auction Records and capping a $6-million series of Bonhams’ bike sales. One highlight was this 1975 Ducati 750SS which sold for $117,000.

Motorcycle enthusiasts assembled in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Saturday, May 3, 2008 for Bonhams & Butterfields’ second annual sale of exceptional motorcycles and automobilia, held in conjunction with the Legends of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance. More than $1.9-million was paid for rare and desirable motorbikes, collectibles and artwork from private and corporate collections, including a Steve McQueen “bobber style” Indian Sport Scout and an Evel Knievel Harley, each hammer followed by a hearty round of applause from the standing-room-only crowd.

Bidders onsite for the auction included an international pool of collectors and self-described “petrol heads” from France, England, Australia, Japan and all parts of the US. A contingent of Hollywood celebs included actors from the big and small screens and their required entourages. Telephone bidders were successful for several lots as competitive bidding pushed prices to record setting levels for several lots.

Having had one owner since new, a 1975 Ducati 750SS ‘Round Case’ drew much attention, bidders closely inspecting it throughout the day-long preview, until the point when Bonhams staff rolled it before the auctioneer’s podium. CEO and auctioneer Malcolm Barber sold the well-maintained, original condition 750 for $117,000, setting a new auction world record.

Steve McQueen’s 1940 Indian Sport Scout was offered with a certificate signed by Terry and Chad McQueen and was part of the McQueen Estate auction in Las Vegas in 1984 before becoming a centerpiece of the Michael Corbin Collection in 2000. The Scout sold for $52,650. Twenty bikes and 70-lots of automobilia from the Corbin Collection were of great interest to bidders, three of the auctions top ten lots stemming from that $667,000 collection.

Seven bikes formerly on exhibit within the museum onsite at the Santa Cruz Harley-Davidson dealership also brought strong collector interest, highlighted by the collection’s earliest gas-powered model, the dealership’s 1929 Harley-Davidson 74ci JDH (sold for $67,860). This motorbike has appeared in magazines and toured in museum exhibitions. A peddle-powered Harley on sale was a 1918 Harley-Davidson bicycle, which sold within estimate for $4,095.

The 2004 red, white and blue Harley-Davidson 88ci Heritage Softail formerly in the collection of Evel Knievel, an icon considered one of the world’s greatest stuntmen and member of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame as of 1999, sold for $46,800.

Other top-selling lots from Saturday’s auction include:

– $69,030 was paid for a 1993 MV Agusta 861cc Magni [lot 151]

– A 1973 MV Agusta 750S sold for $66,690 [lot 166]

– A 1955 Vincent 998cc Black Knight sold for $65,520 [lot 147]

– From the Michael Corbin Collection, a 1929 Indian-Crocker 45ci Overhead-Valve Conversion brought $64,350 [lot 117]

– $58,500 paid for an 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmueller Re-creation, an assembled example of the world’s first production motorbike [lot 131]

– From the Michael Corbin Collection came a 1940 Indian Four, sold for $56,160 [lot 112]

– From the Santa Cruz Harley-Davidson Collection, a 1940 Harley-Davidson 61ci EL sold for $49,140 [lot 126]

The illustrated catalog for the 2008 Legends of the Motorcycle auction is online athere.

  • Published on May 21, 2008
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