Two decades ago Ralph Lauren moved to Bedford, New York. His multiple vintage Bugattis, Ferraris and Rolls Royces immediately appeared, and the collection began to grow. So did Lauren’s real estate holdings and he purchased the adjoining homes. He has so far acquired eight of them and has created a 300 acre estate. The houses remain empty but the garages are filled.
When an auto does appear it is either Lauren, a servant, or one his famous car enthusiast pals. Lauren is a friendly neighbor who always waves, and it is hard not to notice the classic cars he is driving. The fashion designer has a schedule which calls for driving one of the cars every six weeks. The exotic fleet is so fabulous that it is now the subject of the book Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection.
Recent Bedford guests have included comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who collects Porsches, and Wall Street investor Jim Glickenhaus who covets Ferraris. He spent $3.2 million just to refurbish a Ferrari Enzo. Last week’s guest was U.K. television host Chris Evans and his 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder.
It was once owned by actor James Coburn, and Evans paid $10.9 million for it in 2008. Jay Leno owns 110 vintage cars and 90 motorcycles. He keeps them in three former airplane hangars, and tends to buy broken-down classics which can be restored.
Lauren keeps over 70 cars at his east coast homes in Bedford, the Hamptons and Jamaica, as well as another 20 at his place in Telluride, Colorado. Construction is now going on in both Bedford and Long Island for huge garages that can store over 100 cars in climate controlled conditions.
It is considered the most beautiful pre-World War II automobile. Only three were made, and just two have survived. Lauren owns this black one which is frequently on display at the Museum of Modern Art. The finest models in the Lauren Collection were shown in 2005 at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and photos are at:http://rides.webshots.com/album/287089662XwIkBz?start=0
All of Lauren’s Bugattis are painted black. The twin of his Atlantic Coupe was sold this year for between $30 million and $40 million. Because the sale was private, exact figures weren’t released. The same Bugatti sold in 1971 for $59,000, which was a world record at the time.
The previous record for a car sale was for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testarossa which was sold for $12.2 million in 2009. The price of a new Ferrari 330 in 1967 was approximately $8000, and one just sold at auction for $11.5 million.
Bugattis are the mainstay of the Lauren Collection. Ettore Bugatti began manufacturing cars a century ago in Molsheim, France, and was far ahead of his time. His handcrafted cars had innovations such as the use of lightweight magnesium, aluminium and aerodynamics.
The fashion designer provides personal tours of his collection for major donors to the Ralph Lauren Pink Pony Fund (a breast cancer-fighting charity organization). Every tour includes a ride in one of his autos.