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Most Money Paid for Cars at RM Sotheby’s Auto Auctions

Joel Anderson

When it comes to basics of personal finance, the fact that a car is a depreciating asset is among the pantheon of advice you’ll hear a lot, right up there with “always keep an emergency fund” and “those $5 coffees really add up.” You buy a car and it’s apt to lose over half its value in the first two years you own it, making it about as bad an investment as exists out there.

There are, however, some clear exceptions to that rule. While the vast majority of cars are built and sold primarily as a means of conveyance, there are also a great many that are considered artwork. For a lot of folks, the right car is like a Picasso. A Picasso that you can drive around at 100-plus miles per hour. And like fine art or wine, the market for the most sought-after cars — the sort of legends that are as rare as they are beautiful — comes with eye-boggling prices.

GOBankingRates found the 50 priciest cars sold at Sotheby’s auctions since the start of last year, excluding memorabilia and ornamental auctions. These are the cream of the crop, the most expensive vehicles to add to any auto collection. And while there’s no guarantee they’ll appreciate in value — like art and wine, that’s a crapshoot — you can at least be confident they won’t see the sort of drop-off you’ll get on that new Nissan Leaf.

So, if you are looking for a car that won’t immediately be worth way less than you paid for it, and have at least a few million dollars lying around, this list could be a good place to start.

50. 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV by Bertone

  • Collection/auction name: Arizona
  • Location: Phoenix
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $1,391,000

The Lamborghini Miura P400 is noted by Sotheby’s as being “perhaps the first supercar the world had ever seen,” and this 1971 model features a unique dry sump system along with a beige leather, brown carpet interior that screams early 1970s — in a good way.

49. 2011 Aston Martin One-77


  • Collection/auction name: Abu Dhabi
  • Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,440,625

The name One-77 describes the car’s rarity — this was No. 38 of 77 models in total. This “hypercar” can spit out 750 hp and 553 foot-pounds of torque.

48. 2015 McLaren P1

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,490,000

Only 375 of these beauties were made, and it registered a top speed of some 205 mph in the standing mile at the John F. Kennedy Space Center. 

47. 2010 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 'Sang Noir'

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,500,000

This 2010 Bugatti Veyron is unlikely to come up during any shopping trip: it’s one of just 12 of the “Sang Noir” editions and the only one with an all-red interior.

46. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II by Pininfarina

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,517,500

This classic coupe is just the sort of Ferrari you can imagine hugging the corners as you wind your way up the Alps to your ski chalet in Switzerland. It’s the 150th model of the 200 made and still has its original engine, transmission and differential.

45. 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing

  • Collection/auction name: Abu Dhabi
  • Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,581,250

Few things will gather a crowd like a car with gull-wing doors. But it’s not just about the gimmick of the doors — the 300 SL remains a classic Mercedes model, one that has design elements that still ripple through Mercedes today.

44. 1931 Bugatti Type 50 Roadster

  • Collection/auction name: Villa Erba
  • Location: Cernobbio (Como), Italy
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,598,953

Here’s one model that could just as easily be on a museum floor as in a private collection. This 1931 Bugatti Type 50 is the last one left with the original coachwork, making it a little piece of auto history you can stash in your garage.

43. 1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L Berlinetta Lusso by Scaglietti

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $1,600,000

The 1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L is better known as the “Lusso” — Italian for “luxury.” This particular car had been under the same ownership for 50 years and still retains its matching-numbers engine.

42. 1948 Tucker 48

  • Collection/auction name: Arizona
  • Location: Phoenix
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,600,000

This list is pretty heavy with Italian, German and British-made sports cars, so this 1948 Tucker represents a refreshing jump across the pond. This classic comes straight out of Ypsilanti, Michigan, and was briefly called the “Torpedo” for its rear engine and sleek design.

41. 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400 S by Bertone

  • Collection/auction name: London
  • Location: Kensington, London, United Kingdom
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,602,380

Today, Lamborghini is one of the best-known Italian sports car brands, but there was a time when the name had a ways to go to be included in the same pantheon as Ferrari. The Miura — designed by the legendary Marcello Gandini — went a long way toward making Lamborghini a household name.

40. 1930 Duesenberg Model J 'Sweep Panel' Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,650,000

Not a lot of people are going to drop well over a million dollars on a car that predates World War II, but this particular antique — the lone long-wheelbase ‘Sweep Panel’ Dual-Cowl Phaeton ever to come into existence — represents a blast from the past that should be the prize of most collections.

39. 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet by D'Ieteren

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $1,655,000

If you’re interested in getting a Bugatti in the three-seater Aravis-inspired body style by D’Ieteren of Belgium, well, this is your only option. And this beauty still contains plenty of the original components, including the engine, body and chassis.

38. 1991 Ferrari F40

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,682,500

There are few things as iconic in the world of high-end automobiles than a cherry-red Ferrari. And this 1991 F40 certainly fits the bill and then some. It’s one of just 213 built for the American market and has just 1,705 miles on the odometer.

37. 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS by Pininfarina

  • Collection/auction name: Arizona
  • Location: Phoenix
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $1,710,000

If you were thinking this list wouldn’t have very many Ferraris, well, that was silly. This 1967 330 GTS — designed by the famed Italian firm Pininfarina — is one of just 99 produced and even comes with the original tools, books and jack.

36. 2012 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $1,726,416

For something a bit more modern — but still very rare — you could go for this Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Short. It’s one of just 48 Veyron Super Sports that ever hit the streets, offering a stunning 1,200 hp that allows it to accelerate to over 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds.

35. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake by Radford

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,765,000

The 1965 Aston Martin DB5 is legendary for being the model introduced as James Bond’s souped-up car in the classic film “Goldfinger.” This model, though, is a station wagon, so maybe the car Bond’s wife eventually talked him into when they had that second kid and needed something more practical. The family-friendly version might not have the oil slicks or smoke screens, but it did still fetch some $1.77 million at auction.

34. 1967 Shelby 427 Cobra

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,792,500

If you found yourself watching the Netflix documentary “Shelby American” about legendary auto designer Carroll Shelby and deciding you needed more, this 1967 Shelby 427 Cobra could be just the companion piece — assuming you have about $1.8 million leftover after covering your Netflix subscription. In particular, this is the next-to-last of the legendary 427s ever built, making it a little piece of history you can own.

33. 1996 Ferrari F50

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,926,109

Speaking of cherry-red Ferraris, this F50 is the sort of classic, high-performance coupe the legendary Italian automaker is known for. The 4.7-L V-12 engine is a direct relative to the one under the hood for Alain Proust’s 1990 Formula 1 championship, so if you’re looking for something to zip around the streets of Monaco in style, this would be hard to top.

32. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB by Scaglietti

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $1,985,000

For some, though, the classic Ferraris are the way to go, and you won’t get too much more classic than this 1966 275 GTB by Scaglietti. It’s one of just 58 long-nose, torque-tube, triple-carburetor, steel-bodied versions, but you would have needed $2 million to top the bid that took this one home.

31. 1955 Fiat 8V Coupe Zagato

  • Collection/auction name: Villa Erba
  • Location: Cernobbio (Como), Italy
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,006,835

Fiat makes just one appearance on this list, but it’s a doozy. One of just 26 Coupe Zagato’s built, this sleek sports car still has the original Tipo 104.000 engine, and a recent restoration restored the car’s original color.

30. 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS by Pininfarina

  • Collection/auction name: Arizona
  • Location: Phoenix
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,012,500

The second 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS to appear on this list, this one sold for about $300,000 almost exactly a year earlier than the prior GTS on this list. As to why this model was so much more, it could be the different color, or it might be the rare optional factory air conditioning. That said, it might also just be the flagging market for high-end cars that has seen prices dropping across the globe.

29. 1965 Aston Martin Short-Chassis Volante

  • Collection/auction name: Villa Erba
  • Location: Cernobbio (Como), Italy
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,045,074

The aforementioned DB5 might be the most famous 1965 Aston Martin model, but if James Bond were looking for a sportier coupe convertible, you’d have to think this would be it. One of just 37 short-chassis Volante’s produced, this car still has the original engine in it.

28. 1982 Ferrari 126 C2

  • Collection/auction name: Abu Dhabi
  • Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,143,750

There were just seven 126 C2s ever made, which helps to explain why someone was willing to spend so much to obtain this one in November of 2019. This one was driven by Mario Andretti to win pole position at the Italian Grand Prix, a race he finished third in. Which makes it hard to understand why it didn’t go for even more.

27. 1964 Porsche 904 GTS

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $2,172,537

Porsche makes its first appearance on the list with this sleek, aerodynamic 904 GTS that still has its original engine and gearbox. Designed by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, it has a Type 906 Carrera 6 engine in all its intricate quad-cam, air-cooled, four-cylinder beauty.

26. 1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II

  • Collection/auction name: Arizona
  • Location: Phoenix
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,175,000

Right after the first Porsche on the list comes the first Beamer to qualify. This 1958 507 Roadster Series II is one of just 252 examples, made even rarer by having the factory hardtop.

25. 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS by Pininfarina

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,205,000

This beautiful classic Ferrari convertible looks as gorgeous today as it did when it was on display at the 1969 Brussels Motor Show. It’s the first run of the 365 GTS and one of just 20 ever built.

24. 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB by Scaglietti

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,205,000

The sleek, flowing lines of this beautiful 1965 275 GTB make it a feast for the eyes, but the original matching-numbers engine under the hood is another part of why it sold for north of $2 million. The 3.3-liter Colombo V-12s should mean it drives as good as it looks.

23. 1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $2,261,761

The second BMW on this list is also the last. Not to mention, the same. This 1958 507 Roadster Series II fetched just under $100,000 more than the other a little over a year later, potentially defying the gravity of the slumping classic car market.

22. 1994 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,300,000

This rare 1994 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport isn’t technically one of a kind. But it is one of 30 of a kind, which is darn close. And with just over 500 miles on it, it’s almost new.

21. 2018 Pagani Huayra Roadster

  • Collection/auction name: Arizona
  • Location: Phoenix
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $2,370,000

This is tied for the newest of the 50 high-priced cars on this list, and it looks like it too. This is No. 42 of the 100 2018 Pagani Huayra Roadsters made.

20. 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen

  • Collection/auction name: Essen
  • Location: Essen, Germany
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,554,926

If you’re looking to be driven around town in something that really has that old-money-Europe feel to it, this 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A could be just the ticket. That is, assuming you can pry this superb example of Sindelfingen coachwork away from the person who dropped over $2.5 million for it in April of 2019.

19. 2018 Bugatti Chiron

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,577,586

The other 2018 model on the list, this Bugatti Chiron just cracked 1,000 miles. The top speed is about 262.5 mph, but for the Chiron, “top speed” means something different. The car is capable of driving even faster, but it’s electronically limited to that because the tires don’t exist yet to handle anything quicker.

18. 2003 Ferrari Enzo

  • Collection/auction name: Amelia Island
  • Location: Amelia Island, Florida
  • Auction year: 2020
  • Sold for: $2,782,500

This 2003 Ferrari Enzo is one of just 399 brothers and sisters made, and its 17 years in existence have seen under 100 miles of actual driving a year. This model has been a classic since the day it was debuted at the 2002 Paris Motor Show.

17. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $2,947,500

This car was built just low enough to the ground for it to pass under $3 million at auction — but not by much. It’s one of about 500 and it’s believed to be the only one of them built with its specs.

16. 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari

  • Collection/auction name: Fort Lauderdale
  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $3,080,000

One model year later, the price at auction ticked up just about $100,000. Also one of about 500 built, the 2015 LaFerrari was the first “hypercar” offered by Ferrari.

15. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Alloy Berlinetta by Scaglietti

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $3,240,394

The fact that this is the first of the long-nose, torque-tube, six-carburetor, alloy-bodied 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C is one part of why it fetched over $3 million at auction. The other fact that there were only eight in total definitely helped it reach that price, too.

14. 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

  • Collection/auction name: Arizona
  • Location: Phoenix
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $3,360,000

With less than 3,000 miles on it and a recent full service — including new timing belts — this car shouldn’t necessarily be a museum piece. Whoever bought it might well be planning on taking out the 400 hp engine for some long, winding drives at high speeds.

13. 1956 Porsche 550 RS Spyder by Wendler

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris, France
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $3,447,168

This 1956 Porsche 550 RS Spyder exudes the sort of vintage cool you can only get from a classic, sporty coupe. And for racing fans, this particular model has a long and illustrious history, including running in the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans.

12. 2006 Ferrari FXX

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $3,525,000

Just 30 2006 Ferrari FXXs were made as part of an invitation-only process. That helps explain why someone was willing to bid over $3.5 million to make it their own. It came with all of the track-day tools and accessories as well, in case that person was looking to live out their racing fantasies.

11. 1957 Porsche 550A Spyder by Wendler

  • Collection/auction name: Villa Erba
  • Location: Cernobbio (Como), Italy
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $3,829,557

If you’ve got the gumption to put this $3.83 million masterpiece at risk, the sporty little coupe is eligible for many vintage racing events. Of course, one likely doesn’t get involved in racing vintage sports cars unless you’re pretty well off, so maybe that’s all part of the plan.

10. 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spyder by Pininfarina

  • Collection/auction name: Villa Erba
  • Location: Cernobbio (Como), Italy
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $4,211,946

This absolute masterpiece of a car was raced by Scuderia Parravano in California in the 1950s, a fact that should immediately make you jealous of Scuderia Parravano for even more than that incredible name. This is also one of just five Pininfarina Spyders in the “covered headlight” style of bodywork.

9. 2015 Ferrari FXX K

  • Collection/auction name: Abu Dhabi
  • Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $4,281,250

Making its way into the top 10, this 2015 Ferrari FXX K is a track-only car, so you won’t be picking up any groceries in it. But then, over 1,000 bhp under the hood might make a trip to the local Kroger a little bit too eventful for its own good.

8. 1960 Porsche 718 RS 60 Werks

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $5,120,000

If you’re an old-time fan of auto racing, you’ll love the pedigree associated with this vehicle. It raced at 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring, Targa Florio, Nürburgring 1000 KM and the Bahamas Speed Week. It’s also had legendary drivers at the wheel such as Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, Jo Bonnier, Bob Holbert and Hans Hermann.

7. 1987 Ferrari F40 LM

  • Collection/auction name: Paris
  • Location: Paris
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $5,486,576

Only 19 of these 1987 Ferrari F40 LMs — or F40 Competizones — were produced. Just the third F40 off the line, this car was used as a pre-production prototype and raced in the 24 Hours at Le Mans in 1995 and 1996.

6. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 "Bond Car"

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $6,385,000

This would be the Bond car. Not the station-wagon version, nor the sporty coupe from the same year, nor even just another car of the same model. No, this is one of just two examples purchased by Eon Productions for the film “Thunderball” and one of just four built to the Q-branch specifications from the Bond films. So this is definitely Bond’s car. James Bond’s car.

5. 2002 Ferrari F2002

  • Collection/auction name: Abu Dhabi
  • Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $6,643,750

Classic cars and sports memorabilia are two spaces where rare items can fetch sky-high prices. Cross the two and you get this: the 2002 Ferrari F2002. Driven by legendary F1 racer Michael Schumacher during his victories at the San Marino, French and Austrian Grand Prix, the car played a crucial role in helping him secure his fifth World Championship in the 2002 series.

4. 2017 Pagani Zonda Aether

  • Collection/auction name: Abu Dhabi
  • Location: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $6,812,500

Horacio Pagani’s story — that of a man moving to Italy from his hometown in Argentina in hopes of creating the perfect supercar — appears evident in the gorgeous 2017 Pagani Zonda. This car’s six-speed manual transmission is considered by many to be the last great standard ever built.

3. 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $7,650,000

This is the first Ford on the list, but it’s a real doozy. The first of just five GT40 Roadsters ever built, it’s the only one believed to still be in existence in its original form. Built for Shelby American as a test car, it was driven by Carroll Shelby himself.

2. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta by Scaglietti

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $8,145,000

The first car to crack $8 million, this 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta is a favorite of collectors everywhere. This one still has its full set of books and tools and has undergone a factory-authorized restoration that clearly caught the eye of at least one incredibly wealthy collector.

1. 1994 McLaren F1 'LM-Specification'

  • Collection/auction name: Monterey
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Auction year: 2019
  • Sold for: $19,805,000

This 1994 McLaren F1 is one of just 64 street-legal cars of this model and one of only 106 total examples. This supercar also came with a very “super” price tag as the winning bid came in just short of $20 million. That’s more than double the next-closest car on this list.

More From GOBankingRates

Alexandria Bova contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: In order to find the most money paid for cars at RM Sotheby’s auto auctions, GOBankingRates went to the Sotheby’s site and looked at the results of all auto auctions from January 2019 to March 2020 (the latest data available). Memorabilia and ornamental auctions were excluded. Once the list of sales was compiled, GOBankingRates excluded all vehicle sales under $100,000, all pending sales, all sales that took place after the auction and any vehicles with a price range listed instead of a hard number. For international sales prices, euros and pounds sterling were converted to U.S. dollars and then rounded to the nearest whole number. The results were then sorted by most money paid and the top 50 sales were selected. Finally, the top 50 was ranked from lowest to highest amount paid. All research was conducted and is up to date as of March 10, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Most Money Paid for Cars at RM Sotheby’s Auto Auctions