top of page

The One - November 13, 2023 - RM Sotheby’s New York City Ferrari 330 LM/250 GTO S/N 3765

Rick Carey, Wallace Wyss, Jim Weed

Volume 48 Issue 22

Nov 19, 2023

RM Sotheby's auctions off a GTO in New York City. The GTO was displayed with other fine art. Has Ferrari crossed over from automobile to collectible art? You decide, based upon the result.

    JW: This singular sale will likely fill writer’s columns for the next several weeks, if not months. Most will regurgitate the well-known history of this car and of GTOs in general.

    I wanted to present a couple of different, yet perhaps comparable, views of the same sale.



    Wyss: The Ferrari brand is fortunate enough to have several iconic cars in its history, cars that represent the breed, not only for their bold styling but by their performance and accomplishments on racetracks all over the world.

    There are many discussions on what constitutes the ultimate Ferrari, even if it is only a único exemplar but most agree that the 250 GTO of the early 1960s is right up there as the epitome.

    Depending on which car you consider a 250 GTO, there are 36 Ferrari collectors, among them Ralph Lauren, who own the model considered to be the ultimate, the fabled Ferrari 250 GTO.


    Carey: Eyes are focused on RM Sotheby’s upcoming sale of S/N 3765, a 1962 experimental Ferrari bult with a 330 (4-litre) Colombo-pattern V-12 and raced by SEFAC Ferrari twice in 1962, then returned in 1963 to conventional 3-litre 250 GTO specification.

    RM Sotheby’s is offering the car in New York City on November 13 during Sotheby’s Fall Modern and Contemporary auction schedule.


    JW: No longer an just automobile, the history and provenance of this GTO has crossed into the world of art.


    Wyss: It started as but a variation of an existing car, developed by Ing. Giotto Bizzarrini when he was a Ferrari engineer, built on the SWB 250 GT.

    Ferrari wanted to develop a model with all the latest innovations. Even as the 250 GT SWB was racing, Ferrari was reaching out for a more aerodynamic shape, and a higher top end.


    Carey: Originally built as a factory experiment to meet changing rules with a 330 (4-litre) engine.

    Class winner and 2nd overall at the Nürburgring 1000km, then raced at Le Mans by Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini in 1962 with six carburetor intake where it was a DNF after Parkes grounded it on a sand bank at the Mulsanne corner and it later overheated, both entries by SEFAC, the Ferrari factory.

    Rebuilt by Ferrari in 1963 with the current 3-litre 250 P development engine internal number 670/62E with six carburetors.


    JW: There have been many arguments throughout the years as to how many GTOs were built.

    There are 36 250 GTOs, period.

    The seven Series II cars have never had the following the Series I cars have. There were five 330 LMBs that have a GTO nose and a Lusso rear.

    But there are only two 330 GTOs. The Classic GTO shape is iconic. This one is both rare and beautiful.


    Carey: I made the 3-hour trip to New York on November 1 for the preview where S/N 3765 is prominently displayed in the lobby of Sotheby’s headquarters between the escalator banks.

    It is a center of attention even among jaded New Yorkers, albeit flanked by jewelry, wristwatches, and stacks of high-zoot handbags.

    The jewelry and watches are understandable; the handbags … not so much, but this is New York City, a center of conspicuous consumption.

    Even more important is the array of fine art arranged on the floors above the lobby that will be offered the same day. It positions the LM/GTO among modern art in the context of multi-million dollar works by Picasso, Calder, Chagall, Rothko and Magritte.



    Wyss: A spot of bother came when the car was announced in 2023 as an auction offering in New York City by RM Sotheby’s.

    The first part of the controversy was the venue chosen - not at a car auction per se - but a fine art auction. It would be the only car for sale, amidst fine art.

    This isn’t the first time RM Sotheby’s has tried this platform. In 2017 they offered Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F2001 race car at an art auction and received a record price of $7,504,000.

    Pundits in the Ferrari world wondered what this meant. Why not a regular car auction such as Monterey in August?

    The answer may well be that RM Sotheby’s perceives the art market (in which they also have a strong presence) as an audience who might perceive a car as an objet d’ art rather than as a car.

    There are paintings that regularly sell for tens of millions. Why not a race car that is vetted in effect by carrying the Prancing Horse badge on its flanks at Le Mans?



    JW: Ferraris as art. We have appreciated the cars for their beauty almost since conception.

    When compared to hanging art many a Ferrari model meet the same criteria, beauty, rarity and the subliminal effect that stirs something deep within our souls.


    Wyss: Since the last known 250 GTO sale was a rumored $72 million (a private sale so it’s only a rumored price) many thought the $60 million expected bid listed by RM Sotheby’s was reasonable. As far as turning out to be the most expensive car ever sold at auction, that title will most likely still belong to a Mercedes 300 SLR roadster race car converted by the factory into a Gullwing coupe for the head engineer who had engineered it.

    It went for roughly $140 million so it might be asking too much for the RM Sotheby’s GTO to best that.


Carey: Rebuilt by Ferrari in 1963 with the current 3-litre 250 P development engine with six carburetors and sold to Pietro Ferraro. Later sold to Ferdinando Latteri and raced, mostly in Sicily.

    Later history in the U.S. including with Fred Leydorf in 1974, from him to the present owner in 1985 who had it restored by Shelton Ferrari with many subsequent concours and show awards including placing 2nd at the Pebble Beach 250 GTO gathering in 2011 among 23 GTOs.


    Wyss: I would say it is safe to predict it is worth more than a stock GTO. The fact it served as a works  prototype should make it even more valuable.


    Carey: Prominently positioned among Sotheby’s signature New York Modern and Contemporary art auctions, encouraging it to be considered “art” rather than functional technology.

    The paintings, sculptures and assemblages can’t be driven. They emit no gripping sound when hanging on the wall.



    They provide only emotional realization when viewed, not the grip and feedback of cornering the Ferrari.

    Even the Calder mobiles, as beautiful as they are, move only on wisps of air not the impetus of twelve vibrant cylinders and six air-gulping Webers.



    It’s a test by RM Sotheby’s to find whether they can move automobiles to a different collecting level. Only time will tell if it works and how well.



    Rick Carey’s auction results and reviews are available at

    Wallace Wyss is a fine artist specializing in Ferraris. For photos of art available write


    Sold for $51.7 million

bottom of page