The Week in Auctions: New Records for British Cars and Norman Rockwell

RM Sotheby's sold the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 for $22.5M in Monterey, and Heritage set a world record for Norman Rockwell at $1.6M.

1948 Original Study for “Tough Call” by Norman Rockwell. The work was gifted to Umpire “Beans” Reardon. Heritage Auctions

This weekend saw not one but two records in the auction world. The first came from RM Sotheby's, when on Friday night in Monterey, California the house set a new world record for the most expensive British car ever sold at auction with its sale of the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, chassis no. 1, according to an announcement from the house.

The historic car, which was estimated to sell for over $20 million, ended up fetching $22,550,000 after two bidders went head-to-head for nearly seven minutes. The winner was a private collector bidding by phone, according to Sotheby’s.

The previous auction record for a British automobile was $21,800,000, for the 1955 Jaguar D-Type, and was set during RM Sotheby’s 2016 Monterey sale. Other significant lots during the house’s annual flagship sale on August 18 were the 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Prototype, sold for $6,765,000, and the 2006 Aston Martin DBR9, which fetched $616,000. The first session of the two-day sale finished with a whopping total of $60 million.

Meanwhile, on Saturday night, Norman Rockwell’s original study for his 1949 cover of the Saturday Evening Post, titled Tough Call, sold for $1.6 million, far exceeding the painting’s estimate of $300,000. The work set a new record for the most expensive Rockwell study ever sold, and was purchased by an anonymous buyer, according to a release from Heritage. The previous record was set earlier this year at Heritage with the sale of Rockwell’s Triple Self Portrait for $1.3 million.

Tough Call came to the auction house by surprise (as we previously reported) and was only discovered to be a Rockwell original when a family from Austin, Texas submitted the piece—which they believed to be a print—to experts for evaluation. The painting, which depicts legendary baseball umpire John “Beans” Reardon, is a study for Rockwell’s final composition, currently at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The piece was given by Rockwell to Reardon, and has remained with the family until Saturday’s sale.

“The art community and sports fans all over the world owe thanks to Beans Reardon’s family for preserving this piece of Americana for future generations despite not quite understanding what they had,” says Heritage director of Sports Memorabilia Chris Ivy.

On the record sale, Heritage director of America Art Aviva Lehmann says, “This recent record further underscores Heritage’s position as a firm leader in the field of illustration art, and of American art in general. One of the key factors that contributes to our success is our tremendous crossover capabilities across all 40 of our categories.”

The Week in Auctions: New Records for British Cars and Norman Rockwell