The big story Celebrity-owned classics
Does an illustrious previous keeper always increase the value of a classic?
‘Celebrity provenance can make a significant difference’
How much value does a classic’s previous famous owner have on what someone is willing to pay today? Unsurprisingly, increased value (if any) varies from the substantial to none whatsoever.
Some names, especially leading sportsmen and actors, will draw interest, but it doesn’t always lead to substantially higher values. Photographic evidence of that person with their car helps, as does their name on the logbook.
‘Celebrity provenance can indeed make a significant difference to the value of a car, but only a very few personalities seem to have the right charisma,’ says Brightwells’ James Dennison.
‘Any car formerly owned by Steve McQueen, for instance, will automatically fetch several times more than an identical car owned by an average Joe, as will a vehicle owned by a top rank pop star such as a member of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.
‘If they have owned dozens of cars though, like Peter Sellers and Elton John for instance, it makes only a slight difference to the value because their old cars are forever popping up at auction.’
According to Historics’ Edward Bridger- Stille, a well-known previous owner can help values. ‘Rarity and uniqueness are always pillars of classic car values and today’s celebrity culture makes this all the more the case. Madonna’s 25,000-mile 2002 Mini Cooper S rocketed to £22,400 at Historics’ summer auction last summer; in contrast, you’ll get a reasonable one without celebrity underpinnings for a tenth of that.
Barons’ auction manager Tim Gascoigne takes a similar stance, saying: ‘The effect of having a famous previous owner really can vary wildly, depending on who the person is and the level of association with the vehicle. A car owned by a popular actor or musician for many
years, and in which they have been photographed a lot, will likely see quite a big increase in value, whereas a car owned for a short time by a politician or industrialist isn’t likely to be worth any more than it usually would be.’
According to Brightwells’ James Dennison: ‘ With the older prewar cars it certainly helps to have illustrious owners in the history file – but only a towering figure like Churchill or HM The Queen would make a really significant difference to the price.’
One of only 16 built, this 1956 Jaguar XKSS was formerly owned by Steve McQueen and is now part of the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA, USA