Private collectors buy rare Orient Express coaches
Private collectors paid half a million euros for three coaches from the legendary Orient Express train and another luxury wagon Saturday, auctioneers in France's Loire valley said.
Individuals bought separately the four coaches for a total of 500,000 euros (nearly 600,000 dollars), five times what seller Jacques Guyot was seeking to pay for repairs to his chateau's roof.
On sale in the rare auction -- the first for prestige railway items since 1977 -- were two restaurant cars with 56 places and 14 tables built in 1928 and a sleeping car with 11 compartments built in 1949.
All had been part of the Orient Express train travelling from Paris to Istanbul.
A private collector from Switzerland bought one of the restaurant cars for 205,000 euros while a renovator from the Alsace region picked up the less well-preserved second dining car for 60,000 euros.
The sleeping car went for 50,000 euros.
Guyot also sold for 185,000 euros a rare wagon of 1909 that used to transport Britons from Calais in north France to the Cote d'Azur in the south.
Auctioneer Aymeric Rouillac said he did not expect such vehicles to come on the market again.
Only 40 coaches from the Orient Express exist today, explaining the strong interest the auction received from individuals and collectors' associations, he said.
© 2010 AFP