The idea of one day discovering something extremely valuable that had been hidden away for years, is enough to capture the imagination of us all.
However, that is exactly what happened to Pierre Novikoff of French auction house Artcurial, when he received a phone call back in early 2014.
On the end of the line was a representative of an estate, that included a run down barn with a collection of antique cars, (many of which had not been touched in almost half a century).
Novikoff and colleague Matthieu Lamoure of Artcurial were not prepared for what they saw upon arrival.
The barn and its contents have been labeled the most valuable barn find of all time; a discovery being compared in grandeur to the uncovering of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
In classic Car terms there has never been a discovery quite like it. The barn contained 60 rare and vintage automobiles highly sought after by collectors.
The cars were manufactured by legendary makers such as Maserati, Bugatti, Ferrari, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot-Lago, Panhard-Levassor, Delahaye, and Delage.
Adding to the rarity and value of the find, many of the cars were rare models with coaches built by some of the most renowned coachbuilders of the time, including Million & Guiet, Frua, Chapron and Saoutchik.
The classic cars were originally owned by entrepreneur Roger Baillon, who acquired them during the 1950s and 60s. However, upon falling on financial hardship Ballion was forced to sell much of his collection.
After his death, the cars that remained were passed down to his son. Somehow, he had no idea of the cars potential value and they were left to continue rotting in the various barns and outhouses of the property.
After he passed away, Roger Baillon’s grandchildren inherited the collection. Which brings us neatly back to the present, and the inclusion of Lamoure and Novikoff tasked to ascertain the cars’ worth.
It was certainly a job the two revelled in. Merely taking stock of all the items took them several weeks. Out of the 60 cars found in the barn, there were three Saoutchik-bodied Talbot Lago T26s, including an extremely rare Grand Sport Aérodynamique and a Talbot Lago T26 Cabriolet -once owned by King Farouk of Egypt.
The most valuable car in the collection, was a beautiful 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider. In auction the car is expected to sell in excess of $10,000,000 USD.
This particular Ferrari California once belonged to French actor Alain Delon – who had been photographed in the car with actress Jane Fonda in 1964.
“You go into this profession for discoveries like this … this really is a treasure … an once-in-a-lifetime discovery…when we arrived here, we found ourselves overcome with emotion.” Lamoure said during an interview after the find.
“I think some should be left as they are, and others should be restored,” said Lamoure. “This is a unique testimony. It is the collectors who have this opportunity to make the successful bid who will decide. If you think about it, there are always restored cars available to buy on the market. These vehicles are unique.”
“This is a very rare opportunity presenting works of art unknown to the market. For the Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport coupé Saoutchik, caved in at the rear, I think it should be left in this condition. It is a sculpture.”
Although a very nice idea in theory, whether this will happen remains to be seen. The full collection is due to go up for auction in February 2015.
[Image Credits: Artcurial]