Malcolm Barber runs Bonham’s auction house which has sales in Australia, America and the UK. They’ve got a unique specialty in selling vintage cars. Here are excerpts from an interview Barber gave to Australia’s The Business Spectator and Isabelle Oderberg where he describes what’s working in his business:
We had a sale of Californian paintings on the west coast of America. It went through the roof, $3.5 million hammer, 80 per cent sold and the majority of people buying were private individuals. I’m not saying that the dealers weren’t there or they weren’t successful or they weren’t bidding. They probably were, but they are being very selective and like everybody to buy something for stock, they’re being careful. [ . . . ]
We just sold a Bugatti in Paris, over €3.5 million. It was last on the market over 25 years ago and it’s very rare. It’s one of two, maybe three, in existence and they’re all slightly different. So, that sort of item does not come into the public domain very often. Three very active private bidders on it and it went to a European collector. That market is very strong, but again it’s a tangible asset. [ . . . ]
Jewellery of course, people find safety and security in precious metals. Gold has been going up recently, although diamonds have shown a slight decrease. Sometimes people have faith in the precious metal side of things as well as the, you know, the nice signed art nouveau and art deco pieces by well known makers of course.[ . . . ]
Estate sales, collections, one owner collections coming on the market, are very important. When somebody has collected for a period of 20, 25 years and it’s been in that family for some time. The other day we sold the contents of an apartment on Park Avenue here in New York, but it was an apartment which had been decorated in Japanese taste and there were a lot of Japanese painted and silk screens there. We thought perhaps 20 to 25 Japanese screens might be too much, but we had to sell it. It was an estate and they did very, very well. A lot of international interest.
Hammering Out an Investment (Business Spectator)