By George Matlock
Elton John’s 20 cars up for sale went for a total of £1.705 million, plus London auctioneer Christie’s commission, which took the final figure to £1,951,725 (US$2,749,981) on June 5, 2001.
Buyers for Elton’s prestige fleet of cars were worldwide, but the right-hand drive of all but one of the cars meant most went to UK buyers, Christie’s deputy chairman Dermot Chichester told a news conference after the auction, to which I was invited.
Asked at the conference by me whether John Reid, Elton’s former manager, had bid, Mr Chichester said: “No comment”. He said music industry and other entrepreseneurs bought the cars. And he said more details will follow in the next few days. He did confirm there was interest from football personalities, but none from the Royal Family.
Among those present at the auction was Queen bass guitarist John Deacon. Asked whether he bid successfully for any of the cars, John told me: “I was here to see the auction. No comment.”
About 200 people packed the St. James’s Square venue for the auction, and most were serious car buyers. Many more had to be accommodated in an ante room next door.
The highest bids were mostly for the older limos, but the highest price was struck, with commission, for the Jaguar XJ220 1993 model. This car, which caused sensation when it’s list price collapsed even before it was delivered to Elton and Chris Rea, among clients, went for the top price of £234,750 (US$330,763). Only 80 were ever produced of this model. The price estimate had been £130,000 to £160,000.
Elton’s 1973 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI Limousine, the one with the 36-speaker stereo Hi-Fi, was the next highest, at £223,750. It’s estimate was £110,000 to £150,000.
The 1987 Bentley Turbo R Four Door Saloon, which has carried Gianni Versace, but also Elton to Diana, Princess of Wales’ funeral in 1997, went for £49,350. The estimate was a mere £18,000 to £25,000.
Some cars came inside their estimate range, although with commission, all comfortably exceeded their estimates.
At the news conference, Elton phoned to say he was thrilled with the result, and realised there was a “lot of money to be made in second-hand cars”!