It is a sign of the times that a Ferrari racing car pivotal in winning Michael Schumacher's fourth world drivers title should be sold at a contemporary art auction.
The 2001 Ferrari F1 car which won two Grands Prix, including the famous Monaco Grand Prix, and clinched the world drivers and constructors titles, will be sold at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 16, 2017 in New York.
The car was curated (sourced) via RM-Sothebys, the world's most prominent and successful auction house for elite collectible cars, yet it was clearly a conscious decision to sell it at one of the world's most important contemporary art auctions instead.
RM-Sotheby's held auctions at all of the most prestigious collectible car events in 2017 such as the Monterey Car Week auctions in August and Ferrari-only 70th Anniversary Leggenda e Passione auction in Maranello, Italy, just two weeks ago.
Indeed, RM-Sothebys will hold its annual New York collectible car auction in the same venue just a few weeks after this car goes to auction, and all three of the above mentioned auctions have previously set world record prices for cars.
That is, instead of it selling alongside Bugattis, Bentleys and other Ferraris, a car that was built by the world's most successful F1 constructor, by far the most valuable marque at auction, and driven by the world's most successful F1 racing driver will be sold in the company of artworks from Warhol, Basquiat, and Johns.
The decision to classify the Ferrari as contemporary art by the choice of sale venue is clearly heavily influenced by the state of the respective markets. The collectible car market is down from its peak of three years ago, while "Contemporary Art has emerged as the art market's primary locomotive" according to the recently released ArtPrice Contemporary Art Market Annual Report.
While collectible car aficionados have long regarded the subjects of their passion as works of art, they may be a little dismayed if the art market begins to think along similar lines as prices will undoubtedly skyrocket.
The figures are irrefutable, with contemporary art turnover having grown +1,400% in 17 years from US$103 million in 2000 to US$1.58 billion in 2017.
So strong is the contemporary art market (for works created by artists born after 1945) at present that the segment's record price of $58.4 million for a work by Jeff Koons in 2013, was eclipsed earlier this year by the $110.5 million fetched by a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Just which camp will score the Schumacher Ferrari will be watched with intense interest as it is unquestionably an Objet d'art, yet it is unprecedented in automotive auction history for such a recent championship winning car to reach auction.
The car equally qualifies as functional art, as the frighteningly powerful 3.0 litre V10 is unrestricted in its performance and eligible for historic racing, where winning would be a case of "pole putting."
Ferrari's Corse Clienti services for such a car would also mean that Ferrari would house, service and prepare the car in Maranello for its owner and transport it to any event in the world, offering the services of its F1 mechanics, and the instruction of the company's test drivers.
The car is expected to fetch "well in excess of $4 million" but if it is indeed recognized a contemporary art by the art market, the resulting price might shake the foundations of the collectible car industry, not to mention validate the Sotheby's and RM Sotheby's partnership which began in February 2015.
The car is on display until October 3 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre during Sotheby's Hong Kong Autumn Sales week, and is expected to be on display in New York well in advance of the Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 16, 2017.
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