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Rare Bugatti sold to California museum for record $30-40 million

Rare Bugatti sold to California museum for record $30-40 million 1A 1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic was purchased for between $30-40 million, the most ever paid for a vehicle, according to a report in the New York Times.

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A blog report by the newspaper detailed that in late May, the estate of Dr. Peter D. Williamson sold the late car collector’s prized vehicle to the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California. If the sale price is accurate, it would shatter the previous record, the $12.2 million paid in May 2009 at public auction in Maranello, Italy, for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.

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The Bugatti sale was brokered by Gooding & Company, the automotive auction house based in Santa Monica, Ca., and has reportedly been in progress for a while.

Rare Bugatti sold to California museum for record $30-40 million 2

The 57SC Atlantic was based on the Aerolithe Electron Coupe, a show car built for the 1935 Paris Auto Salon. The car’s low-slung, pontoon-fender design was the work of Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore Bugatti. The show car was fashioned out of magnesium panels that were difficult to weld, and so Bugatti employed the car’s distinctive riveted seams. And while the three production Atlantics were built of weld-able aluminum, the seams were retained as a design cue.

Two completely original Atlantics survive: the Williamson car and another owned by clothing designer Ralph Lauren.

The Mullin Automotive Museum, founded by noted car aficionado Peter Mullin and housed in a facility formerly owned by Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler, is dedicated to the preservation of French classic cars of the 1930s, including marques such as Delahaye, Delage, and Talbot Lago. The Museum opened to the public in April.

“I am extremely pleased to have found the new buyer for the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, one of the world’s most significant and valuable automobiles that has been in a private collection and rarely seen during the past four decades,” said David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding & Company, in a statement. “It has been a great pleasure to work with the Williamson Family and Trust in this important endeavor.” Gooding declined to confirm the identity of the buyer or price.

Williamson, a noted neurologist and expert in epilepsy, amassed a spectacular collection of Bugattis – built in Molsheim, France, between the wars – near his home in Lyme, New Hampshire. Many of these cars were auctioned by Gooding at Pebble Beach, Ca., during the annual car collector classic weekend in August 2008. However, the total sales of Williamson’s other Bugattis sold then – some $15.5 million – was half, or less, than the Atlantic price.

Two completely original Atlantics survive: the Williamson car and another owned by clothing designer Ralph Lauren.

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