Artcurial. The amazing discovery
February 7, 2015
The Collectors’ Car Department at Artcurial has discovered 60 collectors’ automobiles, all major marques dating from the early days of the motor car through to the 1970s. Found following fifty years of lying dormant, the Baillon collection was sold by Artcurial Motorcars in the first part of the traditional sale at Retromobile Salon, on 6 February 2015, in Paris. These motor cars have been tucked away in a property in the West of France, under makeshift corrugated iron shelters and in various outbuildings.
Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot-Lago, Panhard-Levassor, Maserati, Ferrari, Delahaye, Delage...these legendary marquesmake up the extraordinary cache discovered by the Artcurial car department team, Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff. Many of these cars were built by highly celebrated coachbuilders such as Million-Guiet, Chapron and Saoutchik, with a number of Talbot Lago T26sincluding a very rare Grand Sport Aérodynamiqueand a rather extravagant Cabrioletonce owned by King Farouk.
Sheltering in a garage, conserved in good condition, the two specialists came across one of just three Maserati A6G Gran Sportswith coachwork by Frua, dating from 1956. Beneath piles of newspapers, they discovered a Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider, with covered headlights. It had been bought new by the actor Gérard Blain, then sold to fellow actor Alain Delon, who was photographed several times at the wheel of this machine, including in 1964 with Jane Fondaduring the filming of ‘Les Félins’ and on the Côte d’Azur with Shirley MacLaine. One of 37 examples, this Pininfarina-designed cabriolet, its whereabouts unknown to marque historians until now, is bound to attract the attention of collectors of important historic Ferrari.
This collection was assembled during the 1950s by Roger Baillon, an entrepreneur who ran a transport company based in the west of France. As enthusiast from the early days, he exhibited, at the Paris Motor Show during the 1950s, a roadster that he had built. His dream was to conserve the heritage of pre-war automobiles in museum surroundings. During the 1970s, before he could carry out the necessary restoration work, his dream was shattered when his business suffered a setback. He was forced to sell some fifty cars, and since that time, the rest of the collection did not move until this discovery.
On Friday 6 February 2015, the collectors’ car department at Artcurial once again caused a stir amongst international collectors who came in huge numbers to the Salon Retromobile. The sale realised 46 165 983 € / 34 260 292 £ / 52 236 667 $, following a marathon two-part auction lasting over 11 hours.
Starting at 14.00, over 3,500 people crammed into the saleroom to take part in this historic auction that began with the 59 automobiles in the extraordinary Baillon Collection. Almost 1600 people registered to bid in the sale, with another 1000 connected to the Artcurial Live Bid platform to bid online.
Without a doubt the most exciting moment of the afternoon was the appearance of the uncontested star of the sale, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, arriving on the stand as the room plunged into darkness. The saleroom held its breath as the bids rose, before bursting into applause as Maître Hervé Poulain’s hammer fell at 16.3M € / 12.1M£ / 18,5M$ including premium. This is the highest bid in Artcurial’s history.