Piece of the Week
McQueen's Motorcycle
Jonathan Fairbanks for Artfact
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Sold At:
Bonham's & Butterfield's Important Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles and Related Memorabilia, Petersen Museum, Los Angeles; Nov. 12, 2005
What:
Lot 290 1933 Matchless 592cc Silver Hawk Engine No. 33B1927; Ex-Collection of Steve McQueen
How Much:
Pre-Auction Estimate: $20,000 - $25,000
Selling Price: $47,000


An already rare object combined with a celebrity provenance is usually a recipe for a successful auction. San Francisco-based Bonhams & Butterfields recent offering of one of 1960s film star Steve McQueen's former bikes was no exception as it raced past its pre-sale estimate selling for $47,000, or 47% above the high-end of the estimate.

The Matchstick Silver Hawk first came off the assembly lines in 1931 as a replacement of the Silver Arrow line, and it would ultimately last for only four years. This particular motorcycle was part of the 1933 line and became part of McQueen's noted collection of classic motorcycles. McQueen, the star of films such as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair and Papillon, died in 1980 at the age of 50.

Artfact Analysis:

Classic cars and motorcycles are one of the fastest growing areas in the antiques and collectibles business. All three major auction houses, as well as hundreds of small auction houses around the world, routinely hold classic-transportation auctions. Exceptional cars can easily bring more than $1 million with a select few actually topping the $5 million barrier. As this market continues to mature, there is little to suggest that prices will fall anytime soon.


 
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