Now it looks set to happen all over again. Provenance is the key to the value of any item at auction, and a bike that has been owned by the head of the Catholic Church obviously has a potent multiplication factor on its value – in that case it fetched roughly 25 times its new sale price due to its Holy alliance.
There are three 2013 Harley-Davidsons with Papal provenance. As part of Harley-Davidson's 110th anniversary celebrations, two commemorative motorcycle fuel tanks were presented to the then Pope, Benedict XVI. His signature was added serigraphically (he was too ill to sign it himself) and the tanks sent back to the company's US headquarters where they were fitted to their respective motorcycles.
One of those machines remains in the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee while the other motorcycle, an FLSTC 103 Heritage Softail Classic (the bike being offered at auction on February 5 in Paris and pictured above), was retained for a ceremony where it would be presented to the Pope at Harley's 110th birthday celebrations in 2013. In an unforeseen change to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI abdicated in January 2013, becoming Pope Emeritus.
The Softail Classic was duly presented to the newly inaugurated Pope, his holiness Pope Francis, at a ceremony in Rome together with the FXDC Dyna Super Glide Custom sold by Bonhams at its Grand Palais auction in 2014 to become the 19th most valuable motorcycle ever sold at auction.
So this motorcycle will sell with direct connections to two Popes and it is also signed by Pope Benedict XVI and Willie G. Davidson, and as an extra reason to be generous on February 5, the sale proceeds will be donated to Stowarzyszenie Przyjazny Świat Dziecka (Friendly World Association), a Polish voluntary, independent, non-profit organization that offers care and support to those in need.
Bonhams' estimate of €15,000 to €25,000 (US$18,000 to US$31,000) is clearly some sort of politeness protocol which relates to the Papacy, because there's every reason to believe the bike in question will sell for a lot more than its book value and given its association with two Popes, maybe even more than last year's bike.
Better than a St Christopher medallion – a Harley-Davidson FLSTC 103 Heritage Softail Classic signed by one Pope, blessed by two and signed by Willie G.