You can call it the Bonhams Blockbuster: The British classic car and art auction house has announced that a Ferrari 250 GTO, one of the most valuable cars in the world, will be offered for sale at The Quail Lodge on the Monterey Peninsula in August.
Only some 57 of the now-legendary cars were produced. They dominated international sports car racing and became cherished by collectors. When they are sold, the transactions usually occur in private, and for astounding amounts of money. The last such sale reportedly was for an amount approaching $60 million.
And yet a GTO with an amazing history will be offered in August, and at no reserve, meaning there will be no minimum figure that the bidding must reach before the car can be hammered sold.
The 250 GTO Berlinetta is one of 10 cars from the Maranello Rosso Collection that will be offered at the Bonhams sale. It is chassis number 3851 GT and was the 19th 250 GTO produced. The car was completed September 11, 1962 and was delivered to famed French racing driver Jo Schlesser, who entered it in the 1962 Tour de France race with co-driver Henri Oreiller, a French skiing champion. They finished second.
Later, the car crashed during a race at the Montlhery Autodrome near Paris, but was returned to Ferrari, repaired and sold to Paolo Colombo, a “gentleman racer” who drove it in hill climbs in 1963 and then sold the car in 1964 to Ernesto Prinoth, who raced it both on tracks and in hill climbs.
A then young Fabrizio Violati, scion of a family in the mineral water business, bought the car in 1965 and later said, “I saved the car from scrap and hid it from my parents. I only drove it at night so nobody would see me.”
But in the ensuing years, Violati would be seen many times in his car, driving it frequently in vintage races and rallies. He also founded the Ferrari Club Italia and in 1989 opened his museum in San Marino.
Violati died in 2010 at the age of 74. The Ferrari 250 GTO, now with the longest single-family ownership of any 250 GTO — nearly 50 years — is one of 10 cars from his collection that will be offered at Bonhams’ sale at The Quail Lodge. The other cars from the museum to be sold have yet to be announced.