Where in Mayfair could you have an exhibition of Rolls Royce Phantom cars on two different floor levels? Yes, around Park Lane and Berkeley Square there are luxury car showrooms opening onto the street at ground floor level, but it is to the credit of Bonham’s and architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands that in the £30 million redevelopment of the Bond Street auction house in 2013, they achieved a high quality building which is extremely versatile, taking advantage of the difference in ground levels from the front and the back, creating three large open auction rooms, two of which are double-height, with the inclusion of a dedicated hydraulically operated platform for cars, given Bonham’s reputation as an auction house for vintage cars.
This week, upstairs off Bond Street, were some of the best examples of the different vintage Rolls Royce Phantoms, owned by Fred Astaire (1927), Sir Malcolm Campbell (1933), The Field Marshall Montgomery (1936), the Aga Khan (1952), HM the Queen (1977) and, most eccentrically, Mick Jagger, whose 1965 model was repainted in time for the release of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” on 1st June 1967. Downstairs was the new 2017 Phantom, perfection in design, with the luxurious interior you would expect, intelligent technology and a powerful 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine. Taking a cue from Mick Jagger perhaps, in case you think the newest Phantom has become too streamlined and too perfect, lacking the quirkiness and style of the vintage models, there is an option for customers to invite their favourite artist to create a unique work of art running across the full width of the dashboard.
The architect Alex Lifschutz said that “an auction house essentially needs to fulfil two functions… It’s got to be a warehouse. And its got to be a theatre” The launch of the new 2017 Rolls Royce Phantom, which takes centre stage in the lower gallery, shows how well Bonham’s new building has achieved this.