By Scott Reyburn
(Bloomberg News) A Ferrari 365 GTC is for sale priced at 375,000 pounds ($600,000) after its owner discovered that the car once belonged to the musician George Harrison.A search of registration records showed that the blue coupe had been bought new by the Beatle for 4,000 pounds in 1969, according to the present seller, U.K. classic-Ferrari specialist Talacrest. The car inspired Harrison's friend, fellow guitarist Eric Clapton, to become a Ferrari collector.
"I'd never seen one in the flesh before and my heart melted," Clapton wrote of the car in his autobiography. "It was like seeing the most beautiful woman on earth." Even though he could not drive at the time, he soon acquired the first of several Ferraris, also for 4,000 pounds. Harrison sold his GTC in the mid-1970s.
Some exceptional cars are making record prices at auctions, especially those with links to celebrities. A 400GT 2+2 Lamborghini described as being owned by Paul McCartney fetched 122,500 pounds earlier this month. Last October, RM Auctions sold a 1972 Lamborghini Miura, whose first owner was the singer Rod Stewart, for 694,400 pounds, beating an upper forecast of 560,000 pounds.
Optimism in some parts of the art market has returned to the boom time levels of May 2007, according to a survey published last night. The biannual ArtTactic Confidence Indicator for the U.S. and European contemporary-art markets stands at 74, an 8.3 percent increase on December 2010 and its fifth straight increase.
The survey of 130 collectors and market professionals comes after increased demand at auctions in New York and London and at fairs such as Art Basel. Wealthy individuals, concerned about possible recession, are buying art in the hope that it is a "non-correlated" asset, the survey said.
Still, the ArtTactic Risk Barometer rose 12.6 percent to the same level as May 2008, shortly before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. About 70 percent of respondents saw economic uncertainty as the greatest threat to the art market.
"Art being sold as a store of value should carry a warning," Anders Petterson, founder of the London-based research company, said in an interview. "There's a handful of top works by established blue-chip artists that wouldn't be affected by a crisis. Otherwise, if something happens, there will be an overall market contraction. I don't think it will be much different from last time."
In 2009, prices of some heavily traded living artists slumped by as much as 50 percent. Since then, Sotheby's and Christie's International contemporary-art auctions have been increasingly dependent on high-value works by established postwar names such as Andy Warhol and Lucio Fontana.
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