Article / Auction

Duemila Ruote: looking back at a record breaking auction

In the early days of October 2013, the life of Treviso, a small town in north eastern Italy, was upset by unbelievable news: millions of euros were missing from the caveau of North East Services, one of the leading cash-in-transit and private security companies in Italy. The unexpected gap was discovered by detectives that were conducing a routine control, after they had been reported an irregular cash transport.

Author: Alvise Mori

Media by: Sotheby's, 0-100

Organizers: Sotheby's, Milano Autoclassica

They were expecting to impose a 35 thousand euros fee at most, and instead came up with the discovery of what would eventually be identified as a €36 million shortfall. Further investigations found out that for almost ten years Luigi Compiano, the patron of North East Services, had been filling mendacious tax returns; the accounts of the society were also doctored, showing a realistic cash availability which was however far from reality.

As the bankruptcy proceedings started, the financial police continued its research, hoping to recover at least a part of the lacking money - a total calculated in a whopping €120 millions. They began by searching for offshore accounts, shares or obligations, but couldn’t find anything. But shortly after, near the end of October, they unearthed an astonishing collection of vehicles. Hidden in several sheds around Treviso, to the knowledge of very few collaborators of Compiano himself, rested some 70 offshore boats, 100 motorcycles, and an unbelievable 400 cars, from the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati and many others. Apparently, the patron had a heavy addiction for buying vehicles; oddly enough, he couldn’t enjoy any of his cars, in order to avoid suspicions. No one had ever seen him driving anything other than his daily driver, a rather exciting Audi A8 6.0 W12.

If this collection of hundreds of exotic vehicles rings a bell, it’s because you’ve probably followed its sale in December 2016. Since high hammer prices are generally uncommon for foreclosure auctions, the prosecutors knew they needed a high profile auction house to have better chances of filling the gap Compiano had generated, and opened a public call to auctioneers. RM Sotheby’s was the winner, and consequently sold all the vehicles in its Duemila Ruote [Two thousand wheels] auction, held on occasion of Milano AutoClassica 2016.

Many were the things that emerged from the sheds, including an important number of metal signs from either car brands or gas stations which opened the auction; bicycles, motorcycles and offshore boats ranging from the early 19th century to the present days; and, of course, many many cars.

What appears strange, when browsing the lots, is that there was seemingly no logic behind Compiano’s purchases: the cars range from concourse-condition classics, to uncomplete and rotting modest cars; in between, a Volvo XC 70, a hot-rod Chrysler PT Cruiser, some Smart and many more oddities. So we’ve decided to go through the auction catalog again, and offer you some highlights from one of the strangest and less known car collections ever!

Mercedes 300SL wheels & parts: A stripped bonnet, four rusty rims and some engine parts. In case you’re wondering, there wasn’t a single w198 SL in the whole collection… Just these parts laying around. Apparently, however, someone amongst the bidder had an ongoing restoration project, as the lot sold for €1.521.

Jaguar D-Type children car : If you aim to be the best dad in the block, you must buy your kid a cool toy car. So what about 1:2, electric replica of the 1957 Le Mans Ecurie Ecosse entered - and overall winner - Jaguar D-Type #3? These models are exceedingly rare and carefully crafted in every detail, and that’s why the hammer fell at €30.420. 

Jaguar E-Type S1.25 : This is where things start to get interesting: lot 230 was a 1967 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 (1.25, to be precise) with coupé body and 4.2 engine. It presented in conserved, original conditions, with both the exterior and interiors in overall very good conditions, matching numbers and a beautiful set of skinwall tyres. It has been quite a bargain, since it was won at a mere 67.200€. 

Many other E-Types were included in the sale, mostly coupé, but also roadsters. They all sold for diminutive prices, with a burgundy red S1 4.2 coupé hammering at 52.640€. Apparently, there were no lovers of the model amongst the bidders.

Porsche 968 Cabrio : Produced in some 11 thousand exemplaires between 1991 and 1995, the 968 is a somewhat rare Porsche. Representing the very end of the lineage started by the 928 in 1977, it is, to date, the last two-doors front engined Porsche. The model, like all the other declinations of the 928 series, didn’t receive much love from the public, and remains a quite rare product in Zuffenhausen’s history. The example sold by Sotheby’s was finished in Guard Red over black leather, allegedly the most popular configuration for the model, but was made special by the lesser seen cabriolet body. The final price was a reasonable 32.480€. 

Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo Evoluzione IMSA : IMSA, as you might know, stands for International Motor Sports Association. It means that this very special, very rare Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo is amongst those few cars that Alfa Romeo itself tuned to take part in the international competitions of the late 1980s. The car, conceived thinking especially to the Giro d’Italia, a competition that mixes track races with special stages on public roads, proved to be the absolute best of its kind, consigning Alfa Romeo two consecutive full podiums at the tournament. How many cars did Alfa enter to get this result, you ask? Only three. It sold for an appropriate 336.000€. 

Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA : Another gem from the Arese factory was this extremely rare, perfectly preserved Giulia Sprint GTA. A time capsule landing straight from 1965, it was finished in white over black and retained its original magnesium parts. Like its younger sister, the 75 Turbo, it sold at a staggering 336.000€. 

Porsche 993 Carrera RS : As you may have heard, the 993 Carrera RS is the second rarest 993 ever built. It was manufactured for two years only, in 801 examples (plus 213 Clubsport variations). It featured a naturally aspirated, air cooled 3.8 engine, paired to a lightweight body and improved brakes, making it one of the most desirable and drivable iterations of the whole air cooled 911 lineage. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that it sold for 341.600€.

Porsche 993 GT2 : We’ve just stated that the RS is the second rarest 993. So what’s the rarest? The GT2 of course! Only 57 road legal pieces were manufactured, with a few more track examples existing. One of those was part of the collection, and sold indeed for 616.000€.

Porsche Carrera GT : Browsing the lots of Duemila Ruote is an exciting, confusing pastime. As we said earlier, there seems to be no logic behind the composition of the collection; and it’s also incredible to see the amount of ultra rare hypercars that a single man had bought and kept hidden just to satisfy his craze. How often do you see a Carrera GT around? One was in the Compiano collection, and sold for 761.600€ - quite a steal, considering the ever increasing market value of the car, one of the greatest to ever come out of the Zuffenhausen gates.

Bugatti EB110 GT : Arguably one of the greatest cars to come out of the 1990s, the Bugatti EB110 represents the (unfortunately failed) dream of Romano Artioli to revive the glorious Italian-French brand. This example, preserved in like new condition, was likely one of the latest acquisitions of mister Compiano before being busted, as it rocked a totally appropriate, recent license plate reading “EB 100 WK”. How cool is that? It might have been yours for 616.000€.

Maserati MC12 : The previous lot definitely drove us into a totally different realm of rarity. The Carrera GT might be considered uncommon, having been manufactured in an alleged 1270 examples. But the EB110s are only around 1/10th of that number, as only 139 left the Blue Factory. The present car, however, was a strictly limited edition of 25+25, built to obtain the FIA racing homologation of the track version. This very example marked less than 6.000kms on the odometer, and was kept in like new condition; it was one of the top lots when the hammer fell at 3 millions 24 thousand euros.

Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Long Nose Alloy : If you’re familiar with Ferrari, the exotic, long designation of this model should ring a bell. 6C means six carburettors (Weber, naturally); long nose indicates the longer front end of the body, and alloy of course, the material. These specifics were given to a mere seven 275s, making this one of the rarest and most desirable Ferraris ever. The final hammer price was kept “low” by the modifications this car has gone through (it currently presents as Red over Black, despite being originally delivered in Nero over Beige), but was however a considerable 3.416.000€, making this the top lot of the auction.

Porsche 959 : It’s the late eighties. You’re an extremely wealthy individual, looking for a last generation, top performance hypercar. Odds are you’ll choose one of 292 Porsche 959s produced, to gift yourself a 2850cc, 450hp 6 cylinders boxer engine capable of a 314km/h top speed, controlled by an all-wheel drive and top notch electronics. Compiano’s 959 came in an understated (for as much as a 959 can be understated) metallic grey over black, and sold a tad over a million - precisely 1.008.000€.

Ferrari F40 : Imagine being the same guy of the previous paragraph, but you think that a sports car must be totally analog, and that all wheel drive is for offroads only. What’ll you buy? Exactly. A Ferrari F40. Often compared to the Porsche 959, as the two cars were the absolute best of their era, they’re also radically opposite one to the other. If the 959 provided a full racing experience but in an extremely refined, luxurious and comfortable package, the F40 is instead bare, brutal and ready to shatter you as you got behind the wheel. Crafted in less than 1350 exemplaires to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th birthday, it’s also been the last prancing horse to be presented by the Drake, Enzo Ferrari himself. Perfectly preserved and showing only 26.800kms from new, lot 877 sold for 1.030.400€. 

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