The strange case of the Bugatti in the lake
Sunday 17 January 2010
The Retromobile Salon kicks off in Paris January 22, with an unusual lot at the centre of the prestigious car auction.
The auction's organizers are no strangers to delving into history, but amongst the classic cars and automotive memorabilia set to go under the hammer, Lot 250 has generated the most intrigue. A 1925 Bugatti Brescia Type 22 Roadster, which has lain at the murky bottom of Lake Maggiore for the past 70 years, has been raised from the depths and is expected to sell for €70,000 - €90,000.
Auctioneers Bonhams is unable to trace the exact history of the vehicle, although the remarkable preservation of the registration plates has helped. On April 11 1925, the brand new chassis ‘2461' was registered in Nancy, France, by Georges Paiva. Bonhams believes that in 1930, it was transferred to Paris and the ownership of Georges Nielly, who affixed a brass plate to the vehicle that still remains.
How and why the Bugatti made the 900 km journey from Paris to Ascona on the banks of Lake Maggiore is unknown. The most likely candidate as owner has emerged as Marco Schmuklerski, a Swiss architect who lived in Ascona between 1933 and 1936. Researchers believe that he may have studied at the Beaux Arts school in Paris, purchasing it from Nielly whilst in France, or bought it from a French tourist or client in Ascona. Either way, import duties were never paid; the story around Ascona holds that the taxes amounted to more than the Bugatti's value so it was dumped, unceremoniously, in Lake Maggiore when Schmuklerski left town.
After 73 years 52 meters underwater, Jens Boerlin and other members of Ascona's sub aqua club retrieved the wreckage on July 12 2009. Restoration, the creation of a replica, or public display are some of the most likely options for the new owner of the Roadster. For the winner of Lot 250, this year's Retromobile will certainly auction some fascinating history - along with a classic car.
Retromobile runs from January 22-31 at the Porte de Versailles in Paris.
Life & Style blogs
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers
Airline food across the classes: Ever wondered what the other half are eating?
Coachella Festival 2015: from Kendall Jenner to Alexa Chung, stars and festival-goers parade their boho best
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Huawei P8 review: best phones nobody's seen from the biggest company nobody's heard
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...