Concorde auction prices hit the skies

17th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 15 (AFP) - Concorde-mania swept Paris Saturday as a selection of supersonic memorabilia went up for auction and prices rocketed out of the catalogue book and into the skies.

PARIS, Nov 15 (AFP) - Concorde-mania swept Paris Saturday as a selection of supersonic memorabilia went up for auction and prices rocketed out of the catalogue book and into the skies.

There were gasps as the centrepiece of the charity sale - a trademark 3.5-metre (11.5-ft) cone from the end of Concorde's nose - sold for EUR 480,099 (USD 564,835), more than a hundred times its highest valuation.

The buyer requested anonymity.

Signs that the sale was going to exceed expectations by a massive margin were apparent as the first of 180 lots went under the hammer. A speedometer valued at just EUR 300 sold for EUR 11,000.

"I'm giving up. I must have been too naive," said Marleen Gottendieck, a Dutch businesswoman who had been hoping to buy a 12-piece crockery set for her collection of in-flight kitchenware. "With these prices I don't stand a hope."

Around 1,500 people - professional bidders, aircraft fanatics, collectors and the curious - crammed into three rooms at Christie's auction house near the Elysee palace, with many more spilling on to the road outside and angrily demanding admittance.

"We have never had a sale like this. But then we had no idea what to expect," said a visibly-harassed Christie's assistant.

More than 40 telephone lines allowed international bidders to take part in the sale, and more than 1,200 pre-auction offers were registered.

Air France, which along with British Airways was the only airline to fly the recently-decommissioned jet, decided to sell off pieces of the aircaft as well as scale models, photographs and other memorabilia in order to raise money for a children's charity that it runs.

After five hours, when the auction finally finished, nearly EUR 3.3 million (USD 3.8 million) had been raised - vastly beyond even the most optimistic expectations. Bargain-hunters led to hope for a cheap piece of aviation history had left in droves.

A pilot's seat estimated at EUR 1,000 sold for EUR 42,300; an Olympus 593 engine went for EUR 151,250; and a speedometer bearing a read-out of Concorde's cruising speed of Mach 2.02 went for EUR 94,000.

Also selling at well over their catalogue prices were sections of fuselage and windscreen, a complete set of maintenance records, bespoke tool-kits, fitted galleys, and black-and-white photographs charting the airliner's 27 years of commercial flying.

"This unique plane has an unparalleled place in the history of international aviation and has captured the public's imagination for nearly three decades," said Air France president Jean-Cyril Spinetta earlier.

"We hope this landmark sale will contribute to the memories of this human and technological adventure as well as raising funds for good causes," he said.

Air France and British Airways both stopped Concorde flights this year because of doubts about their economic feasibility as the aircraft age.

In July 2000 an Air France Concorde crashed outside Paris killing 113 people, and a technical flaw in the wing-based fuel tanks was blamed.

The last ever Concorde to take to the skies will take off from London's Heathrow airport on November 26, on a flight to Filton, near Bristol, western England, with a short supersonic burst over the Bay of Biscay, BA said this
week.

© AFP


Subject: French news



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