An all-Ferrari auction took place this week. It happened in what is surely the best location for an all-Ferrari auction—Monaco. Held at the Place du Palais overlooking the Port of Hercules, the sale by MonacoCarAuctions was held in conjunction with “Top Marques Monaco,” a fancy car show where the manufacturers show off their latest and greatest exotics each year at the Grimaldi Forum. The place to be, in other words, if you’re supercar shopping. Online bidding opened for a total of 39 Ferraris, including a one-off 365 beach car by Michelotti, a 488 GTB ice racer, and Fernando Alonso’s Enzo.
But just as Scuderia Ferrari didn’t shine in Monaco at the Grand Prix a couple weeks back (P6 for Leclerc, P8 for Sainz), collectible Ferraris weren’t exactly red hot at this sale, even though MonacoCarAuctions called it “L’AstaRossa” (the red auction). In fact, only 18 of the cars were red, but more importantly, just 15 of them met reserve and sold. Fernando apparently decided to hang on to his Enzo when it failed to meet the €5M low estimate. The funky gold beach car didn’t go to a new home, either. The top sale, however, is still pretty neat. One of 14 Ferrari 250 GTs wearing alloy skin by Carrozzeria Boano, it sold for €1,350,000 (about $1.46M, and not including up to 12% buyer premium plus possible VAT). It was also driven in period by a mysterious wealthy Dutchman with one of the coolest names I’ve ever heard—Jan de Vroom—who not only raced cars (how could you not with a name like that) but also sailed boats, collected vintage watches, consorted with a Rockefeller heiress and, finally, wound up murdered in his New York apartment.
In 1954, the newly-formed Carrozzeria Boano snagged a contract to built the 250 GT for Ferrari. Although their company was only around for three years, the coachbuilder founded by Felice Mario Boano and his son Gian Paolo produced bodied for Fiat-Abarth, Chrysler, Lincoln, and Alfa Romeo. The Ferrari 250 GT Boano, however, is their most prolific and best-known work, although it was tweaked from an original Pinin Farina shape. Over two years, about 70-80 “low roof” coupes were built by Boano, and 14 received alloy bodies intended for competition.
This one, chassis 0569GT, sold via Luigi Chinetti in the US and competed at the Bahamas Speed Week races in 1956, driven by the aptly-named de Vroom to unremarkable results.
Speaking of de Vroom, his racing career appears to have only spanned 1956-58 and includes a string of DNFs and mediocre results, but he did race Ferraris at Sebring and Le Mans. He was also an early financial backer of Luigi Chinetti’s legendary North American Racing Team, aka NART. How de Vroom paid for his expensive hobbies isn’t clear, but at some point he had befriended the generous Margaret Rockefeller Strong de Cuevas (yes, that Rockefeller), and with her connections got into the import business.
According to a 2008 Vanity Fair piece about Strong (which really is worth a read), the “unsavory Jan de Vroom…was a tall, blond adventurer who dominated drawing rooms by sheer force of personality rather than good looks.” de Vroom evidently used that to his advantage, as the story adds that, “through Margaret de Cuevas’s bounty he soon owned a sleek sailing boat, a fleet of Ferrari cars, a Roll-Royce, and—briefly, until it crashed—an airplane.” By the ’70s he was still involved with her but had gotten a little too into pills and booze and in November 1975 a houseguest found him stabbed to death in his apartment. It was a botched robbery and embezzlement attempt, hatched by a group of former friends and lovers.
The story of the Ferrari, meanwhile, has a happier ending. After racing in the Bahamas, there isn’t much record of its history until it was restored in the 1980s by DK Engineering in England, partially using parts from another 250 chassis, according to online Ferrari resource Barchetta. It sold a few times in the ’90s, and last brought €401.500 at an RM auction in 2009. Carrying Ferrari Classiche and FIVA certification, it’s eligible for the Mille Miglia and surely any event the new owner would wish to take it to.
MonacoCarAuctions is a brand new company based in, you guessed it, Monaco. This was their first sale, so the mixed results are understandable. But even though the low roof Boano coupe does wear an older restoration, it sold for about 100 grand more than its Condition #1 (“concours”) value in the Hagerty Price Guide and more than the last alloy Boano offered at auction, which sold for $1.35M two years ago.