14 Dec 2011
The ex-works/Giancarlo Morbidelli and ex-George Beale/Silverman Museum racing motorcycles present a rare Italian offering.
Bonhams, the world's leading auctioneer of motorcycles, is proud to announce that it has been entrusted to represent two significant Benelli racing motorcycles – a 1958 250cc Grand Prix Factory Racer and a 1998 Four 350cc Racer – at its second annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale in January.
This announcement follows the news of the world record-making sale of the 1954 AJS E-95 'Porcupine' Factory Racer offered earlier by Bonhams at its summer Quail Lodge Sale in Carmel. The British Porcupine carried a pre-sale estimate of $750,000-950,000 – a sum spiritedly discussed in motoring publications and forums around world – and sold to a private collector near estimate soon after the sale, creating a new world record for any motorcycle offered by an auction house.
The pair of Benelli racers offered by Bonhams are of similar caliber to the AJS in terms of rarity and desirability and global interest is expected.
Although the venerable brand is Italy's oldest surviving motorcycle manufacturer (founded in 1911), Benelli's relative obscurity despite its illustrious racing history has helped fuel its legendary status among enthusiasts. Ridden to success by such champions as Mike Hailwood, Renzo Pasolini and Geoff Duke, the lightweight factory racers were marvels of engineering and performance, providing formidable competition to the roster of international motorcycle manufacturers.
The 1958 Benelli single-cylinder, 250cc Grand Prix Factory racer is one of only four made and one of just three surviving. Formerly the property of famed Italian motorcycle manufacturer, race team owner, restorer and collector Giancarlo Morbidelli, this extremely rare competition machine is the epitome of period Italian racing prowess and ingenuity.
The 1998 Benelli 4-cylinder, 16-valve, 7-speed, 350cc racer is a replica of the fabled 1969 GP model meticulously made by that maestro of builders George Beale. It was sold to renowned collector Jack Silverman who campaigned it at prestigious events at Daytona, Willow Springs and Laguna Seca.
These two exotic racing machines will join a very impressive group of more than 120 motorcycles – including the 'time capsule' collection of nearly 50 original condition bikes from the eminent du Pont family – in January. The second annual Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale takes place on Thursday, January 12th, inside the Auto Collections museum at the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino on The Strip. Buyers interested in registering to bid, in person or remotely, may visit www.bonhams.com/vegas for more information.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son and Neale UK. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street, and Knightsbridge, and a further five throughout the UK. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Boston in the USA; Toronto, Canada; and France, Monaco, Hong Kong, Australia and Dubai. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 57 specialist areas. By the end of 2009, Bonhams had become UK market leaders in ten key specialist collecting areas.For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com.