Bonhams’ first ever motorcycle sale in Las Vegas on Thursday January 6th, proved to be a resounding success for the world’s leading automotive auctioneer. With a packed auction room of international buyers from around the US and overseas, approximately 200 motorcycles of diverse makes and models from every era of history sold briskly – even making world records – for a total sum exceeding $2.5 million. Six bikes made in excess of $100,000 on the hammer.
The extremely rare and historic Hildebrand & Wolfmüller from circa 1894 Germany – the world’s first production motorcycle and the machine to which the word “motorcycle” was first applied, sold to an American collector for a world record price of $161,000. It is interesting to note that the Bonhams international motorcycle department have now unearthed two of these extremely rare finds, both from the US, and strategically placed them in their international group auctions on both sides of the Atlantic to generate global interest.
The ex-Otis Chandler first-year production 1901 Indian “Camel Back” Single, sold for $131,500 after spirited bidding to a collector in the southern hemisphere versus American aficionados. Other top lots included: A very rare, factory prepared competition 1939 BMW R51RS – one of only two known BMW factory racers in private hands and the only unrestored pre-War Rennsport in existence – made $130,200 after competitive bidding from US collectors. The tremendous “time capsule” factory prepared 1929 Harley-Davidson “Peashooter” found in an Australian mine in complete original, unrestored condition brought a very worthy price $125,800 for a private collector. One of a handful of surviving “Big Xs,” a 1916 Excelsior Board Track Racer in original condition from a prominent Gulf Coast collection – previously shown at Pebble Beach – sold to a European for $117,000. An early American icon from an important Long Island, New York, collection, a 1913 Flying Merkel Model Seventy Twin, saw competitive action from UK bidders but sold successfully to a private US collector for $115,000.
For a full list of sales results, jump to: “Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale”