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The D-Day Sale: Normandy Tank Museum collection achieves $4.2 million
This picture taken on September 12, 2016 in Catz, northwestern France shows a WWII landing vehicle tracked (LVT) at the Normandy Tank Museum. The Normandy Tank Museum's closure put WWII items for sale, including tanks and other WWII items, in an auction held on September 18. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP.

CATZ.- Over a thousand people packed into the Normandy Tank Museum in Catz, on Sunday 18 September 2016, for the sale of the museum collection by Artcurial Motorcars. Offered at no reserve, every one of the 130 lots in the D Day Sale sold. Maître Hervé Poulain, who comes from this area, was on the rostrum for the sale which realized 3 714 675 € / 4 160 436 $, well above its estimate. The auctioneer introduced the sale by remembering the first soldiers to cross the Normandy beaches under German fire, who later distributed chewing gum to the crowds gathered on the « Voie de la Liberté ».

High prices were achieved throughout the afternoon. Early in the sale a Jeep Willys (lot 7) sold for 100 100 € / 112 112 $ to a European bidder, setting a new auction world record for this model used widely by American troops. Shortly afterwards, a 1942 BMW side-car (lot 17) also set a new world record. A third record was achieved for the 1944 Cushman military scooter (lot 90), which sold to a collector in the room for ten times its estimate, fetching 500 € / 167 440 $.

Collectors had travelled from far and wide to bid in this special sale, attracted by the rare opportunity to buy totally restored military vehicles, many in perfect working order. Bidders from Europe, America and the Middle East were particularly active, with 7 of the top 10 lots acquired by foreign buyers.

« What success for this unique sale, with a run of records ! It was wonderful to see so many enthusiasts together in the room, in addition to those bidding on the telephone and internet. Many were taking part in an auction for the first time.
We have our finger on the pulse of this global market and achieved many benchmark prices. People were talking in English, German and French... » ---Matthieu Lamoure, Managing Director, Artcurial Motorcars

It was just a few kilometers from the D-Day landing beaches that Patrick Nerrant opened a museum three years ago, displaying the tanks, armoured vehicles, cars, trucks, motorcycles, planes and military accessories of US Allied and Axis forces that he had collected for more than 35 years. When the museum closed, the entire contents of the museum were offered at auction : some 500 tonnes of material !

The tanks, some of which performed demonstration maneuvers in front of the museum the day before the sale, attracted huge interest and high bids. The top prices went to the Sherman tanks, the stars of the sale. The 1946 Chrysler M4A4 Sherman (lot 46) fetched 364 000 € / 407 680 $, while one of 80 examples built of the Chrysler M4 Sherman 105 (lot 95) was bought for 310 700 € / 347 984 $ by a collector in the room, following a battle with a telephone bidder. To the applause of the saleroom, the new owner announced that the tank, decorated in the colours of the 2nd Division, would remain in France.

Another vehicle that has gained iconic status is the Jeep Willys used by the US military. Two were offered in the sale. Lot 7, with an estimate of 15 000 – 25 000 € attracted great attention, with multiple bids on the telephone, internet and in the room. It was eventually bought by by a European collector for 100 100 € / 112 112 $, a new auction world record for the model. The second example (lot 70) sold for 78 000 €/ 87 360 $.

Motorcycles were also in demand. A 1942 BMW R75 with side-car (lot 17), presented in Afrika Korps livery (the 1942 North African campaign), changed hands for 169 000 € / 189 280 $, close to five times its estimate, which is a new auction world record for this model. The matching trailer (lot 18), made 20 times its estimate, selling for 20 800 € / 23 296 $. The less well known military scooter by Cushman (lot 90) also achieved a new world record price of 149 500 € / 167 440 $. Cushman delivered around 15 000 examples of this model during the war and this was a rare version built for the paratroopers.

Finally, a symbol of the liberation and the landings, one of the commemorative markers of the « Voie de la Liberté » - N13 (lot 30 B) fetched ten times its estimate. Decorated with a red flame, representing that of the Statue of Liberty, and 48 stars, the lot sold for 9 800 € / 10 976 $.

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