A 1955 Mercedes blows away the counters at an auction
This 1955 Uhlenhaut 300 SLR Coupé was sold on May 5 at a confidential auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, in cooperation between Sotheby’s luxury car subsidiary and the German carmaker.
Adjudged at a price of 135 million euros, this Mercedes has achieved almost triple the previous record held in 2018 by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold in 2018 by RM Sotheby’s for more than 48 million USD (45 million euros).
In addition, the Mercedes “300 SLR now ranks in the top 10 most expensive items ever sold at auction,” RM Sotheby’s said in a statement released Thursday, May 19, in London and echoed in New York by parent company Sotheby’s, which is holding its spring art auction this week.
President Oliver Barker, CEO of Sotheby’s Europe, quoted in the release, said he felt “an absolute thrill to have hit the auction hammer for this masterpiece of design and engineering, which now stands with the greatest works of art ever sold.
According to a ranking of artworks sold at auction in recent years primarily in New York, the all-time record is held by Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, sold in November 2017 for USD 450.3 million by Christie’s in New York.
We then find Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol gone on May 9 for USD 195 million at Christie’s, becoming the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever sold at public auction.
For 20th century works, Pablo Picasso’s Women of Algiers (version 0) (USD 179.4 million in May 2015) and Amedeo Modigliani’s Reclining Nude (USD 170.4 million in November 2015), both also sold at Christie’s.
There is a ranking of works of art sold at auctions of more than USD 100 million, so the Mercedes sold on May 5 by RM Sotheby’s and described as the “most beautiful car in the world” ranks 6th or 7th.
This Mercedes, which was owned by Mercedes-Benz as was the second car, was sold to a private collector and the proceeds of the sale “will be used to establish an international ‘Mercedes-Benz Fund’ for scholarships and research training for young people in environmental science and decarbonization,” according to RM Sotheby’s.
The buyer of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé has agreed to present the car to the public at special events, while the other car will remain the property of Mercedes-Benz, which will continue to display it in its museum in Stuttgart.
According to RM Sotheby’s and the luxury and sports car press, the 300 SLR, recognizable by its unusual lines and gullwing doors, was created by engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, based on a race car, the W196 R Grand Prix, which won two Formula 1 world championships in 1954 and 1955 with Italian driver Juan Manuel Fangio.
However, the Mercedes-Benz manufacturer was marked by the terrible accident of its car in June 1955 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which killed its French driver Pierre Levegh and 83 spectators, and kept him away from motor racing for years