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Ferrari auction to Schumacher aid

Part of car’s sale at auction will be given to seven-time German champion

Gulf News

Dubai: One of Michael Schumacher’s racing cars fetched a whopping $7.5 million (Dh27.5 million) at an auction to help raise funds for the stricken former driver’s charity foundation.

The seven-time world champion’s 2001 Ferrari F2001 sparked furious bidding, roaring past its pre-sale estimate of $4-5 million at Sotheby’s flagship post-war and contemporary November evening art sale.

It put the buzz into a night that otherwise fell short of the dizzying heights reached by Christie’s on Wednesday selling a painting of Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci for a record $450.3 million.

Sotheby’s said it was the first time that a rare automobile was included in an art auction and the decision appeared popular.

The sleek, low-slung, fire-engine red vehicle may not have been a work of art, but Gregoire Billault, senior Sotheby’s vice-president, called it “the very best racing car ever sold at an auction.”

The German champion’s Ferrari bearing chassis No. 211, in which he won the Monaco Grand Prix and claim the fourth of his seven World Championships in 2001, was auctioned off at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Manhattan on Thursday. The value fetched by the car is a record for modern F1 machinery with a portion of proceeds from the sale being donated by the former owner to Schumacher’s Keep Fighting Foundation.

The auctioned car is not only famous for being the German’s final Monaco winner, but also the car in which Schumacher won the 2001 Hungarian GP — the race that eventually clinched him that fourth F1 title.

During the course of 2001 season, Schumacher won nine races in all securing a second consecutive crown for Ferrari with nearly twice as many points as closest challenger, McLaren’s David Coulthard.

Chassis No. 211 was sold as part of a $310 million worth of auctions at the Sotheby’s sale, with 96 per cent of lots finding a buyer. The car’s $7.5 million tag was well over the $4 million mark that it was expected to fetch.

Schumacher has been in a coma after suffering a life-threatening head injury while skiing in the French Alps nearly four years ago. Since then there has been very little progress in the German great’s condition.