At some point during the forty years that this 1925 Bugatti Brescia voiturette was moldering in a damp garage, Bugattis evolved from old, tired oddities to incredibly valuable collectors' items. It's gotten to the point where a similar Brescia that spent 70 years corroding at the bottom of a lake can sell for $360,000. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the more destroyed the Bug, the more valuable it'll be.
Thankfully, that's not really the case. I think the mystique of the lost Type 22 at the bottom of the lake transcended its physical decrepitude; the garage this one was found in, and story behind it, aren't so romantic. But its condition was a lot better, and that was enough to make it the most expensive Brescia ever sold, at approximately $951,000. We missed the auction when it happened last month, but once we were tipped off, the massive discrepancy between the pre-auction estimate and the sale price was worth a look.
What's its story? Spotty, at best. According to the auctioneer, it was sold in 1931 and squirreled away during the war. It reemerged in 1950, and ambled about until 1966, where it had a servicing at Molsheim. At some point that year, freshly serviced, it was garaged. And then it was forgotten. 49 years later, it's was sold in exactly the state it was left in—dirt and all. A squirt of starter fluid isn't likely to get it running.
It's a rare car, but it's a project—unless the buyer just wants it for static display, which would be a shame. When really nice Brescias have been no-sales at the auction estimate recently, what gives? A couple factors: recent sales have been known cars; this one has been off the radar for nearly fifty years. Also, the seller, , highlighted a valid point: how many more barn find Bugattis (or garage finds, to be accurate) are left to be discovered? For the Brescia, another find is unlikely. Less than 10 are known to exist. It seems like this assertion sparked a bit of a bidding frenzy that ended with a $270k car, if we're being generous, hammering for $951,000.
Will we see this sort of thing again? Artcurial and the buyer are betting we won't, and outside of the whims of big-money players with egos larger than their collections, that's reason enough to explain the $800,000 discrepancy.