A vintage Ferrari once owned by
The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, chassis number 10621, engine number 10621, went to the highest bidder Saturday night at an RM Auctions event.
The rare, restored GTB/4, known in the car trade as a "4-cam," was expected to sell for $8 million to $12 million.
The Italian sports cars have sold for record prices at auctions this week. A Ferrari 250 GTO sold Thursday night for just over $38 million, becoming the highest-priced vehicle ever to change hands at a public auction.
Experts in the classic car field had predicted the McQueen Ferrari would be sold at multiples above the price it would have fetched if someone else had owned it.
The "Steve McQueen effect," they said, drives the value of anything owned by the actor to several multiples its ordinary price.
"He had a glamour that supersedes any other celebrity when it comes to the ownership of cars," said McKeel Hagerty, president and CEO of the classic vehicle insurance company Hagerty. "This car, in the same condition, might sell for $3 million, or maybe $3.5 million."
Saturday's auction offered a controlled experiment on McQueen's power to boost values. A nearly identical black 1967 275 GTB/4, with no celebrity provenance, was also on the block. It was expected by the auction house to sell for $3.75 million to $4.5 million.
The McQueen Ferrari — one of several that was expected to fetch record amounts at this year's Monterey auctions — is a 1967 275 GTB/4 that the actor ordered from the factory in Italy and had delivered to the San Francisco set of "Bullitt."
The McQueen effect has driven huge sales recently of vehicles that passed through his hands. In 2012 a 1968 Ford GT40 race car, used in the filming of the racing movie "Le Mans," sold for $11 million at Monterey — the most ever paid for any Ford vehicle, and almost four times the $3-million Hagerty Price Guide value the insurance company had given it.
A year earlier, McQueen's 1970 Porsche 911S, also used in "Le Mans," came under the gavel at $1.375 million, the most ever spent at auction for a 911 series Porsche. Hagerty had valued the car at $72,000.
"There's definitely a multiplier," said Max Girardo, managing director of RM Auctions, which sold McQueen's Ferrari. "Any car that's owned by a famous person will have an extra bit to it. When it comes to cars with celebrity provenance, it doesn't get any better than a Ferrari owned by Steve McQueen."
The McQueen Ferrari wasn't the actor's first Ferrari, nor was it even his first choice when he bought it.
McQueen had become enamored of the similar Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider convertible, driven by Faye Dunaway's character in the McQueen movie "The Thomas Crown Affair." After appearing onscreen with that car, he ordered one for himself from Hollywood Sport Cars, the local Ferrari distributor.
But McQueen was rear-ended on Pacific Coast Highway days after the Spider was delivered. When he learned how long it would take to get parts for the rare convertible (only 11 were ever made, out of a total of 300 GTB/4s) he paid $14,400 to replace it with the hardtop coupe model.
Too bad. The convertible versions sell for much more than the coupes. Last year at Monterey, a 1967 GTB/4S NART Spider went for $27.5 million — unaided by the McQueen effect.