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The Concorde Flies Again at Auction
by Bob Brooke

 

As the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of the airplane, two auctions celebrated one of aviation’s most astonishing feats–supersonic flight on the Concorde. Nearly 1,000 buyers and curiosity seekers crammed the auction halls of Christie’s and Bonhams in Paris and London respectively, as components and souvenirs from the British and French Concorde’s went on the auction block with stratospheric prices way over estimate.

The 219-lot sale at Christie’s, with a buyer’s premium of 11.96 percent, on November 15 took off first. The event required two additional salesrooms to handle the record-breaking crowd. Registered bidders came from over 30 countries, and many more phoned in bids on 45 lines. The sale raised $3.42 million for the Air France Foundation.

Two weeks later, Bonhams held a 127-lot auction at the Olympia Exhibition Center in London on that netted cool $1.35 million end-of-auction or hammer total.

The Concorde’s distinctive radome nosecone was the best seller at both sales. Christie’s sold theirs to an anonymous buyer in the salesroom for $513,000, over 30 times the estimated price. Bonhams’ version, estimated at $44,275-62,000, surpassed even this hefty amount by totaling $566,816. The purchaser said he intended to offer the nosecone for display in the UK to help raise further funds for the charity Get Kids Going!, the main beneficiary of the British Airways Concorde sale.

Both auctions offered no shortage of other astronomic prices. In Paris these included $150,560, against a $250-375 estimate, for a door-panel providing access to the flying control chassis and $97,775 for a cabin machmeter.

Bonhams sold a machmeter for $50,000 and saw a tail cone make the same sum while a 1:100 scale commemorative model of the supersonic aircraft, estimated at $700-1000, came in at over $30,000.

Service items also brought in high prices. A passenger blanket of 100 percent merino lambswool in the same lot with an extra-large engineer’s polo shirt with a Concorde emblem, estimated at $70-100, ended up selling for over $2,000.

And so the era of supersonic travel has come to a glorious end–for the time being. If only the Concorde had some competition, perhaps more travelers, beyond wealthy sheiks and jet-setters, would have experienced it.

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