French superstar Johnny Hallyday is not a name everyone will know, but he has the numbers to pre-approve his place in the pantheon of entertainment. Hallyday has recorded more than 1,000 songs, completed 181 tours, sold 18 platinum albums and more than 110 million records, which gives him a spot in the best-selling-musical-artists-of all time listing, well above numerous artists considered superstars in English-speaking parts of the world. He became known as the "French Elvis" when he started out in 1959, and he's still going strong.
So strong in fact, that he set two world records at Artcurial's Retromobile auction on the weekend, selling two of his most beloved possessions for the aid of charity, and nailing a world record with each. The sale marks Hallyday as a future leader on the auction block, as his "star power" gives him the multiplier effect of names like John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Steve McQueen and fellow rock and roll survivor, Eric Clapton.
Unlike many celebrities, Hallyday is a bike guy more than a car guy. Which is saying something because his collection has included many fine automobiles, including a Ferrari 250 California Spider, a Lamborghini Miura, an AC Cobra, an Aston Martin DB6, a Ferrari 275, a Bizzarrini and a Mustang he drove in the Monte-Carlo Rally for Ford France.
Motorcycles however, are his real passion. Just search for "Johnny Hallyday motorcycle" and you'll see hundreds of thousands of images of him on bikes.
Which means the surprise of the entire Retromobile Show, the sale of Hallyday's 1989 Harley-Davidson Softail Springer for a world record price, should not have been a surprise. It was delivered new in Paris in 1989, then tastefully customised by American Moto, then shipped directly to his custom-built villa Lorada in Saint-Tropez and subsequently to Los Angeles. It was to become his favorite bike among hundreds in his collection, with the star clocking 18,910 kms on it since new.
I too stand corrected. In my preview piece for the Retromobile Auctions, I wrote that Hallyday's custom 1953 Cadillac Serie 62 Cabriolet would be one of the stars of the show, but missed his Harley.
Still, his custom Cadillac did sell for $287,544. The entire story of the car is told in both French and English in the auction description.
It is a fine thing Johnny does in donating objects of significant emotional and monetary value to charity.
Bravo Johnny! Keep on rockin!