2020 RM Sotheby’s Auction Year Top Results Overview

In 2020, RM Sotheby’s sold 4,188 lots across 27 auctions with $14,840,000 paid for a trio of Alfa Romeo BAT Concept Cars the top results.

In 2020, RM Sotheby’s sold 4,188 lots across 27 auctions with $14,840,000 paid for a trio of Alfa Romeo BAT Concept Cars the top results. Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) Concept Cars on offer at Sotheby's New York Contemporary Art Evening Sale 2020
Ron Kimball © 2020 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s, the world’s largest auction house in collector cars by total sales in the past decade, published an overview of its top results for 2020. As with all other auctioneers, Covid19 made live auctions the exception rather than the rule. However, RM Sotheby’s generally performed strongly with its online platform and Online Only collector car auctions.

RM Sotheby’s 2020 Key Numbers

Key numbers of RM Sotheby’s 2020 classic car auction year:

  • The top single automotive lot of 2020 (for all auctioneers) — $14,840,000 paid for a trio of Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars.
  • Most-expensive car ever sold in an online-only auction — $4,290,000 paid for a 2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive in Shift/Monterey.
  • In 2020, RM Sotheby’s sold 4,188 lots across 27 auction
  • Bidders from 76 countries
  • Consignor from 42 countries
  • Nearly $4 million raised for charities.
  • Over 30 world records set in a single live auction

RM Sotheby’s Top Ten Auction Results in 2020

In 2020, RM Sotheby’s achieved the following top ten results in live and online classic car auctions:

1. Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 5, 7 & 9d$14,840,000Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York
2. 2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive$4,290,000Online Only: SHIFT/Monterey
3. 1952 Ferrari 225 S Berlinetta by Vignale$2,810,000The Elkhart Collection
4. 2003 Ferrari Enzo$2,782,500Amelia Island
5. 2003 Ferrari Enzo$2,640,000Online Only: Driving into Summer
6. 2018 Pagani Huayra Roadster$2,370,000Arizona
7. 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO$2,310,000Online Only: Driving into Summer
8. 1958 BMW 507 Series II$2,225,819Paris
9. 1964 Porsche 904 GTS$2,138,013Paris
10. 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia$2,040,000The Elkhart Collection

Although the group of three Alfa Romeos sold in New York for nearly $15 million was the most-expensive automotive lot at any auction in 2020, this was the lowest top result in a year for RM Sotheby’s (or RM Auctions) since 2012.

RM Sotheby’s 2020 Auction Year Review

1958 BMW 507 Series II sold at RM Sotheby's Paris 2020 auction
Tim Scott © 2020 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

In 2020, RM Sotheby’s sold 4,188 lots across 27 auctions, 21 of which were hosted on the company’s proprietary Online Only auction platform, which launched at the end of 2019. Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, RM Sotheby’s hosted five live auctions in Arizona, Paris, Amelia Island, and Auburn and Elkhart, Indiana, as well as offered a trio of Alfa Romeo B.A.T. concept cars in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York.

Demonstrating the strength of the RM Sotheby’s international reach, more than 8,600 unique bidders participated in the company’s 2020 sales, hailing from 76 countries around the world. Notably, approximately 60 percent of bidders over the last year represented new RM Sotheby’s clientele as the auction house continued to expand its global reach.

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellation of live events around the world, RM Sotheby’s re-invented its business model to adapt to the quickly changing environment and shifted its auction business to primarily online for 2020.

RM Sotheby’s Palm Beach Sale 2021

In March 2020, RM Sotheby’s converted its live Palm Beach auction into an Online Only sale less than two weeks out from the live event and achieved strong results with $13.7 million in total sales and nearly 900 registered bidders—23 percent more than the average number of registered bidders at live RM Sotheby’s South Florida auctions over the last four years.

The success of RM Sotheby’s first Online Only catalog sale paved the way for an additional ten online collector car auctions for the auction house in 2020. Throughout the year, the company’s website attracted over 20 million page views, nearly 60 percent of which were from new visitors.

RM Sotheby’s Online-Only: SHIFT/Monterey

2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive on offer at RM Sotheby's Online-Only Shift / Monterey Sale 2020
Tim Scott © 2020 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

In August, RM Sotheby’s hosted its annual flagship Monterey sale on its new digital auction platform, dubbed the Online Only: SHIFT/Monterey auction, and further reinforced its position as the world’s leading auction house of fine collector cars, having grossed $30.4 million in sales and establishing the record for the highest price ever achieved for a car sold in a dedicated Online Only collector car auction with the sale of the incredible 2001 Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive for $4,290,000—a record that is still held today. remarkably, this was the only car sold by RM Monterey amongst the top ten auction results for 2020.

RM Sotheby’s Elkhart Sale

1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia sold at RM Sotheby's Elkhart Sale 2020
Darin Schnabel ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s also continued to be the auction house of choice for significant private collections in 2020, offering several standalone motor car and memorabilia collection sales as well as those offered within larger sales.

A star collection that drew much pre-sale interest was The Elkhart Collection hosted in Elkhart, Indiana in October with limited in-person bidder attendance. Comprising over 240 cars and a wide selection of memorabilia, the two-day auction brought exceptional results with $44.4 million in sales and spirited bidding activity from no less than 2,500 bidders from 53 countries. The private collection auction saw strong prices across all lots, with more than 30 new records achieved for motor cars.

Large private collections were also sold as single-owner segments within RM Sotheby’s catalogue auctions, including The Petitjean Collection, which alone amassed €7.3 million during the company’s Online Only: The European Sale.

However, the standout classic car auction of 2020 was undoubtedly the single-owner Passion of a Lifetime sale by Gooding in London.

RM Sotheby’s Charity Sales 2020

In 2020, RM Sotheby’s also took part in several important causes, hosting three charitable auctions on its Online Only sale platform—#RaceAgainstCOVID, held in partnership with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) with proceeds benefitting the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) global response to COVID-19; A Porsche with Purpose, hosted on behalf of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. to raise funds for United Way Worldwide to directly aid its work for COVID-19 relief in America; and A Ferrari to Benefit Save the Children, executed in partnership with Ferrari. A total of $3,962,718 was raised for charity as a result of the three auction events.

Reflecting on 2020, Kenneth Ahn, President, RM Sotheby’s, said: “As the global leader in the collector car auction industry, we were certainly challenged by the impact of the shutdowns due to COVID-19. Over the years, our company was highly optimized to execute world-class live auctions offering some of the most important collector cars around the world. With the shutdowns, travel restrictions, and concerns for safety of our clients and team members, we had to quickly pivot to a completely different operating model and to challenge ourselves to innovate. With the hard work of our dedicated team and the support of our clients, we realized success beyond our imaginations with our new digital auction platform, with over $100 million in total sales via RM Online Only. We are grateful for the continued, incredible support from our clients globally, and the unwavering commitment by our team members in this challenging year.” 

RM Sotheby’s Classic Car Auctions 2021

Side Profile 1931 Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Tourer
Stephan Bauer © 2020 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s will open its 2021 calendar with the company’s 22nd annual live-streamed Arizona auction on 22 January 2021, held at the new location of OTTO Car Club in Scottsdale. In accordance with City and State guidelines, the auction will offer limited in-person, strictly monitored attendance for a select amount of registered bidders only.

The European season will open with the traditional Paris auctions in February where RM Sotheby’s is planning a live-streamed auction followed by an online-only auction.