A Luxury Journey Through The Galapagos

The first superyacht in the archipelago, Aqua Mare offers the Galápagos Islands in intimate and personalised luxury.

By Lauren Ho 10/01/2023

“I can’t say again how lucky you are to be experiencing this alone.”

Notable words from Yvonne, given she’s spent the last 30-odd years as a guide in the Galápagos Islands and knows just how crowded it can get, especially from around mid-June to the beginning of September when tourist-filled ships and day boats descend on the islands.

Now one of two naturalist guides for Aqua Mare, the fifth vessel to join the Aqua Expeditions fleet, she takes personal responsibility for upholding the brand’s reputation to provide  intimate tailormade excursions that venture into remote destinations, away from the crowds.

The first true superyacht in the Galápagos Islands, the launch of the 50-metre Aqua Mare is a sort of homecoming for the company’s CEO and Founder, Francesco Galli Zugaro, whose professional career in luxury travel began in Ecuador. Since then, he’s expanded the Aqua fleet from its Amazonian beginnings to now include ships that ply the Mekong River and the waters around Indonesia.
Like her sisters, Aqua Mare is a beauty to look upon. Previously privately owned, the yacht’s decisively slick exterior sets the tone for lavish interiors that have now been overhauled and streamlined by the Aqua team to feature the yacht’s original Italian walnut veneer wall panels, plush Jim Thompson fabrics and luxuriously thick cream carpets underfoot.

 

Like all of the Aqua vessels, there is also a strong attention to detail — in the living room, a carefully curated book collection, which focuses on the wildlife and history of the Galápagos, is organised and displayed in gradient shades of blue and bespoke tableware from Bali-based ceramic brand, Gaya features details like beautiful endemic plant species along with the numbers 1835, the year Charles Darwin visited the islands.

Unfolding over four decks, there are just seven cabins – including a sprawling 80sqm Owner’s Suite and a room smartly configured with bunk beds – each with ensuite bathrooms, some with Jacuzzi showers. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas, a series of shaded and open sundecks, a six-person hot tub, a barbecue area which is also used as an early morning workout zone, and a lower-level beach club perfect for kids to hang out in. Holding centre stage on deck three is a plush book-filled lounge and bar anchored by a large comfy u-shaped sofa, perfect for having a nap or for socialising and watching movies.

This all comes together as a cosy and intimate base for a schedule of daily morning and afternoon excursions, meaning guests can rest and enjoy the yacht in between. The seven-day itineraries follow one of two Galápagos circuits, which either head east towards the islands of Santa Fe, San Cristobal and Española, or west, covering the seahorse-shaped Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago and the wildlife-strewn Fernandina.

The excursions are tailored to each destination, ranging from gentle ambles along desolate seaweed-carpeted sandy beaches scattered with sea turtle trails, to relaxing zodiac cruises through dense mangrove forests teeming with birdlife. Water activities include daily snorkelling sessions and kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding amid swooping pelicans and frolicking sea lions.

Comprising around 18 major islands, about 950 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos’ most famous visitor, Charles Darwin, spent 19 days studying the islands’ flora and fauna in 1835. Since then, thanks to its unique volcanic landscape with its distinct lava formations, alongside its magical collection of endemic species like the marine and land iguanas, the flightless cormorant, and the Galápagos tortoise, the islands became Ecuador’s first national park in 1959, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in1979.

Surprisingly, these giant tortoises, probably the Galápagos’ most famous residents, are mostly not seen in the wild. Their once 250,000-strong population went into serious decline – a consequence of a hunting spree by pirates, whalers and traders between the 17th and 19th centuries – with only about 15,000 remaining in the wild today.

Santa Cruz, the Galápagos’ most populated island, is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station where you can view these gentle giants in captivity, but the best place to see them roaming in their natural habitat is in the island’s highlands at farms like the family-run Rancho el Manzanillo.

Along the western itinerary, Fernandina, the youngest and westernmost island in the archipelago is the most volcanically active and sits at the hotspot that created the Galápagos Islands. Almost like a live David Attenborough show, the rippling lava landscape – punctuated with yellow lava cacti – is a lively burst of endemic wildlife including a mess of thousands upon thousands of sunbathing marine iguanas, the highest population density for the animal. A walk along Punta Espinoza, on the northeastern tip of the island will take you past slithering racer snakes chasing after baby iguanas and lava lizards, mewling baby sea lions, flightless cormorants, circling Galápagos hawks overhead, blue-footed boobies, and bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs- both of which make a wonderful contrast to the gently rippling grey lava landscape.

A wander along the Mars-like red-sand stretch of beach on Isla Rabida, a postage stamp of land to the east of Isabela, will take you past a resident colony of several hundred snoozing sea lions, and inland to a brackish pool filled with bright pink flamingos feeding on shrimp. A top spot for birdwatching, keen ornithologists can expect to see nesting brown pelicans, Galápagos hawks and doves, and the bizarre blue-footed boobies. It is also the only site where all of the nine different species of Darwin’s finches can be found.

Back on board, following a late morning snorkelling session, the afternoons are spent soaking in the hot tub, watching a film, or snoozing off lunch in your cabin or on one of the sun loungers as frigate birds soar overhead, taking advantage of the yacht’s upward air currents. In the evenings, over an excellent cocktail or a preprandial glass of wine – the house red and white is included in each stay – guides debrief guests on the day’s events and run through the next day’s itinerary. Following that, supper – like all meals – is served family style, either at groups of tables in the indoor dining room downstairs, upstairs on the outdoor deck around one large table or at the top by the barbecue. The food, a collaboration with Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, the chef behind the Amazonian-inspired menus on board Aria Amazon and Aqua Nera, features mostly Japanese-Peruvian inspired dishes  like tuna crudo, barbecued plantains, and fresh shrimp ceviche, or Galapagueña lobster lettuce wraps with acevichada dressing. Futher, and in staying true to its personal service, anything goes on Aqua Mare and so opting to eat a burger for dinner every day is also not out of the question.

While boarding an intimate yacht with a group of strangers might not be everyone’s cup of tea – and know exclusive charter, which includes a private masseuse five hours a day, is available – as days pass all onboard become acquainted. As Yvonne notes, “more often than not, guests bond over the shared experience of being in the magical Galápagos Islands, and depart the yacht having made new friends.”

Seven night itineraries (including all meals and beverages – non-alcoholic, premium wines, and beer – and local transfer to/from recommended flights) from approx. $13,800. Exclusive seven night charter (for up to 16 passengers) from approx. $286,300; aquaexpeditions.com

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Watches & Wonders 2024 Showcase: Hermès

We head to Geneva for the Watches & Wonders exhibition; a week-long horological blockbuster featuring the hottest new drops, and no shortage of hype.

By Josh Bozin 24/07/2024

With Watches & Wonders 2024 well and truly behind us, we review some of the novelties Hermès presented at this year’s event.

HERMÈS

Hermes Cut

Moving away from the block colours and sporty aesthetic that has defined Hermès watches in recent years, the biggest news from the French luxury goods company at Watches & Wonders came with the unveiling of its newest collection, the Hermès Cut.

It flaunts a round bezel, but the case middle is nearer to a tonneau shape—a relatively simple design that, despite attracting flak from some watch aficionados, works. While marketed as a “women’s watch”, the Cut has universal appeal thanks to its elegant package and proportions. It moves away from the Maison’s penchant for a style-first product; it’s a watch that tells the time, not a fashion accessory with the ability to tell the time.

Hermès gets the proportions just right thanks to a satin-brushed and polished 36 mm case, PVD-treated Arabic numerals, and clean-cut edges that further accentuate its character. One of the key design elements is the positioning of the crown, boldly sitting at half-past one and embellished with a lacquered or engraved “H”, clearly stamping its originality. The watch is powered by a Hermès Manufacture movement H1912, revealed through its sapphire crystal caseback. In addition to its seamlessly integrated and easy-wearing metal bracelet, the Cut also comes with the option for a range of coloured rubber straps. Together with its clever interchangeable system, it’s a cinch to swap out its look.

It will be interesting to see how the Hermès Cut fares in coming months, particularly as it tries to establish its own identity separate from the more aggressive, but widely popular, Ho8 collection. Either way, the company is now a serious part of the dialogue around the concept of time.

hermes.com

Read more about this year’s Watches & Wonders exhibition at robbreport.com.au

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Celebrating Neil Perry, Our Culinary Master 2024

Celebrating Neil Perry, our Culinary Master 2024.

By Robb Report Team 22/07/2024

Tickets to Culinary Masters, our annual culinary extravaganza—feting the country’s standout chef, in a once-in-a-lifetime, money-can’t-buy experience—are now available for sale.

The fact that Robb Report ANZ has chosen legendary Australian chef Neil Perry as its Culinary Master 2024 should surprise exactly no-one.

As a chef, restaurateur and television presenter Perry has reframed this country’s gastronomy scene for over four decades and remains as relevant as ever.

His neighbourhood restaurant Margaret has reinvigorated Double Bay in the last year and earned him a host of new accolades, including the third best steakhouse in the world—and the best in Australia. More recently, Perry was honoured with the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards ‘Icon’ at a ceremony held in Las Vegas.

We are thrilled to celebrate Perry’s landmark-year accomplishments, at Song Bird, his hotter-than-Hades new Cantonese restaurant in Double Bay, in an extraordinary night honouring culinary excellence and the best of luxury in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. A night not to be missed.

Details as follows:
Date: Tuesday 17th September 2024
Arrival: 6.30 pm for sit down 7.00 pm
Address:  Song Bird, 24 Bay St, Double Bay, NSW
Dress Code: Cocktail
Price: $660 (includes a $50 donation to ASX Refinitiv Charity Foundation)

Since 1998 ASX Refinitiv Charity Foundation has raised more than $40 million for Children’s, Medical Research and Disability charities doing incredible work every day.
I look forward to welcoming you in person and sharing a memorable evening together.

Horacio Silva
Editor-In-Chief

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Living La Vida Lagerfeld

The world remembers him for fashion. But as a new tome reveals, the iconoclastic designer is defined as much by extravagant, often fantastical, homes as he is clothes.

By Zarah Crawford 22/07/2024

“Lives, like novels, are made up of chapters”, the world-renowned bibliophile, Karl Lagerfeld, once observed. 

Were a psychological-style novel ever to be written about Karl Lagerfeld’s life, it would no doubt give less narrative weight to the story of his reinvigoration of staid fashion houses like Chloe, Fendi and Chanel than to the underpinning leitmotif of the designer’s constant reinvention of himself. 

In a lifetime spanning two centuries, Lagerfeld made and dropped an ever-changing parade of close friends, muses, collaborators and ambiguous lovers, as easily as he changed his clothes, his furniture… even his body. Each chapter of this book would be set against the backdrop of one of his series of apartments, houses and villas, whose often wildly divergent but always ultra-luxurious décor reflected the ever-evolving personas of this compulsively public but ultimately enigmatic man.

With the publication of Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Houses these wildly disparate but always exquisite interiors are presented for the first time together as a chronological body of work. The book indeed serves as a kind of visual novel, documenting the domestic dreamscapes in which the iconic designer played out his many lives, while also making a strong case that Lagerfeld’s impact on contemporary interior design is just as important, if not more so, than his influence on fashion.

In the studio at the back of the Librarie 7L, Paris, in 2008 — a bookshop established by Lagerfeld himself.

In fact, when the first Lagerfeld interior was featured in a 1968 spread for L’OEil magazine, the editorial describes him merely as a “stylist”. The photographs of the apartment in an 18th-century mansion on rue de Université, show walls lined with plum-coloured rice paper, or lacquered deepest chocolate brown in sharp contrast to crisp, white low ceilings that accentuated the horizontality that was fashionable among the extremely fashionable at the time. Yet amid this setting of aggressively au courant modernism, the anachronistic pops of Art Nouveau and Art Deco objects foreshadow the young Karl’s innate gift for creating strikingly original environments whose harmony is achieved through the deft interplay of contrasting styles and contexts.

Lagerfeld learned early on that presenting himself in a succession of gem-like domestic settings was good for crafting his image. But Lagerfeld’s houses not only provided him with publicity, they also gave him an excuse to indulge in his greatest passion. Shopping!

By 1973, Lagerfeld was living in a new apartment at Place Saint–Sulpice where his acquisition of important Art Deco treasures continued unabated. Now a bearded and muscular disco dandy, he could most often be found in the louche company of the models, starlets and assorted hedonistic beauties that gathered around the flamboyant fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. Lagerfeld was also in the throes of a hopeless love affair with Jacques de Bascher whose favours he reluctantly shared with his nemesis Yves Saint Laurent.

Hôtel Pozzo di Borgi, from 1977.

He painted the rooms milky white and lined them with specially commissioned carpets—the tawny patterned striations of which invoked musky wild animal pelts. These lent a stark relief to the sleek, machine-age chrome lines of his Deco furnishings. To contemporary eyes it remains a strikingly original arrangement that subtly conveys the tensions at play in Lagerfeld’s own life: the cocaine fuelled orgies of his lover and friends, hosted in the pristine home of a man who claimed that “a bed is for one person”.

In 1975, a painful falling out with his beloved Jacques, who was descending into the abyss of addiction, saw almost his entire collection of peerless Art Deco furniture, paintings and objects put under the auctioneer’s hammer. This was the first of many auction sales, as he habitually shed the contents of his houses along with whatever incarnation of himself had lived there. Lagerfeld was dispassionate about parting with these precious goods. “It’s collecting that’s fun, not owning,” he said. And the reality for a collector on such a Renaissance scale, is that to continue buying, Lagerfeld had to sell. 

Of all his residences, it was the 1977 purchase of Hôtel Pozzo di Borgo, a grand and beautifully preserved 18th-century house, that would finally allow him to fulfill his childhood fantasies of life in the court of Madame de Pompadour. And it was in this aura of Rococó splendour that the fashion designer began to affect, along with his tailored three-piece suits, a courtier’s ponytailed and powdered coif and a coquettish antique fan: marking the beginning of his transformation into a living, breathing global brand that even those with little interest in fashion would immediately recognise.

Place Saint-Sulpice apartment from 1972. At his work station with on the table, his favourite Lalique crystal glass, complete with Coca-Cola.

Lagerfeld’s increasing fame and financial success allowed him to indulge in an unprecedented spending frenzy, competing with deep-pocketed institutions like the Louvre to acquire the finest, most pedigreed pearls of the era—voluptuously carved and gilded bergères; ormolu chests; and fleshy, pastel-tinged Fragonard idylls—to adorn his urban palace. His one-time friend André Leon Talley described him in a contemporary article as suffering from “Versailles complex”. 

However, in mid-1981, and in response to the election of left-wing president, François Mitterrand,  Lagerfeld, with the assistance of his close friend Princess Caroline, became a resident of the tax haven of Monaco. He purchased two apartments on the 21st floor of Le Roccabella, a luxury residential block designed by Gio Ponti. One, in which he kept Jacques de Bascher, with whom he was now reconciled, was decorated in the strict, monochromatic Viennese Secessionist style that had long underpinned his aesthetic vocabulary; the other space, though, was something else entirely, cementing his notoriety as an iconoclastic tastemaker.

Monaco apartment, purchased in 1981: Lagerfeld sits at a tale by George Snowden, with Riviera chairs by Michele de Lucchi. On the table, a cup and sugar bowl by Matteo Thun, flanked by sculptural Treetops lamps by Ettore Sottsass.

Lagerfeld had recently discovered the radically quirky designs of the Memphis Group led by Ettore Sottsass, and bought the collective’s entire first collection and had it shipped to Monaco. In a space with no right angles, these chaotically colourful, geometrically askew pieces—centred on Masanori Umeda’s famous boxing ring—gave visitors the disorientating sensation of having entered a corporeal comic strip. By 1991, the novelty of this jarring postmodern playhouse had inevitably worn thin and once again he sent it all to auction, later telling a journalist that “after a few years it was like living in an old Courrèges. Ha!”

Reverse view of the Monaco living room, featuring Masanori Umeda’s boxing ring and George Snowden’s armchair. Against the back wall the Carlton bookcase by Ettore Sottsass.

In 1989, de Bascher died of an AIDS-related illness, and while Lagerfeld’s career continued to flourish, emotionally the famously stoic designer was struggling. In 2000, a somewhat corpulent Lagerfeld officially ended his “let them eat cake” years at the Hôtel Pozzo di Borgo, selling its sumptuous antique fittings in a massive headline auction that stretched over three days. As always there were other houses, but now with his longtime companion dead, and his celebrity metastasising making him a target for the paparazzi, he began to look less for exhibition spaces and more for private sanctuaries where he could pursue his endless, often lonely, work.

His next significant house was Villa Jako, named for his lost companion and built in the 1920s in a nouveau riche area of Hamburg close to where he grew up. Lagerfeld shot the advertising campaign for Lagerfeld Jako there—a fragrance created in memorial to de Bascher. The house featured a collection of mainly Scandinavian antiques, marking the aesthetic cusp between Art Nouveau and Art Deco. One of its rooms Lagerfeld decorated based on his remembrances of his childhood nursery. Here, he locked himself away to work—tellingly—on a series of illustrations for the fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Villa Jako was a house of deep nostalgia and mourning.

But there were more acts—and more houses—to come in Lagerfeld’s life yet. In November 2000, upon seeing the attenuated tailoring of Hedi Slimane, then head of menswear at Christian Dior, the 135 kg Lagerfeld embarked on a strict dietary regime. Over the next 13 months, he melted into a shadow of his former self. It is this incarnation of Lagerfeld—high white starched collars; Slimane’s skintight suits, and fingerless leather gloves revealing hands bedecked with heavy silver rings—that is immediately recognisable some five years after his death.

The 200-year-old apartment in Quái Voltaire, Paris, was purchased in 2006, and after years of slumber Lagerfeld—a newly awakened Hip Van Winkle—was ready to remake it into his last modernist masterpiece. He designed a unique daylight simulation system that meant the monochromatic space was completely without shadows—and without memory. The walls were frosted and smoked glass, the floors concrete and silicone; and any hint of texture was banned with only shiny, sleek pieces by Marc Newson, Martin Szekely and the Bouroullec Brothers permitted. Few guests were allowed into this monastic environment where Lagerfeld worked, drank endless cans of Diet Coke and communed with Choupette, his beloved Birman cat, and parts of his collection of 300,000 books—one of the largest private collections in the world.

Metal-base on a platform covered with chocolate brown carpet. Stratified leather headboard attributed to Eugène Printz.

Lagerfeld died in 2019, and the process of dispersing his worldly goods is still ongoing. The Quái Voltaire apartment was sold this year for US$10.8 million (around $16.3 million). Now only the rue de Saint-Peres property remains within the Lagerfeld trust. Purchased after Quái Voltaire to further accommodate more of his books—35,000 were displayed in his studio alone, always stacked horizontally so he could read the titles without straining his neck—and as a place for food preparation as he loathed his primary living space having any trace of cooking smells. Today, the rue de Saint-Peres residence is open to the public as an arts performance space and most fittingly, a library.

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Watch This Space: Mike Nouveau

Meet the game-changing horological influencers blazing a trail across social media—and doing things their own way.

By Josh Bozin 22/07/2024

In the thriving world of luxury watches, few people own a space that offers unfiltered digital amplification. And that’s precisely what makes the likes of Brynn Wallner, Teddy Baldassarre, Mike Nouveau and Justin Hast so compelling.

These thought-provoking digital crusaders are now paving the way for the story of watches to be told, and shown, in a new light. Speaking to thousands of followers on the daily—mainly via TikTok, Instagram and YouTube—these progressive commentators represent the new guard of watch pundits. And they’re swaying the opinions, and dollars, of the up-and-coming generations who now represent the target consumer of this booming sector.

MIKE NOUVEAU

@mikenouveau

Mike Nouveau

Can we please see what’s on the wrist? That’s the question that catapulted Mike Nouveau into watch stardom, thanks to his penchant for highlighting incredibly rare timepieces across his TikTok account of more than 400,000 followers. When viewing Nouveau’s attention-grabbing video clips—usually shot in a New York City neighbourhood—it’s not uncommon to find him wrist-rolling some of the world’s rarest timepieces, like the million-dollar Cartier Cheich (a clip he posted in May).

But how did someone without any previous watch experience come to amass such a cult following, and in the process gain access to some of the world’s most coveted timepieces? Nouveau admits had been a collector for many years, but moved didn’t move into horology full-time until 2020, when he swapped his DJing career for one as a vintage watch specialist.

“I probably researched for a year before I even bought my first watch,” says Nouveau, alluding to his Rolex GMT Master “Pepsi” ref. 1675 from 1967, a lionised timepiece in the vintage cosmos. “I would see deals arise that I knew were very good, but they weren’t necessarily watches that I wanted to buy myself. I eventually started buying and selling, flipping just for fun because I knew how to spot a good deal.”

Nouveau claims that before launching his TikTok account in the wake of Covid-19, no one in the watch community knew he existed. “There really wasn’t much watch content, if any, on TikTok before I started posting, especially talking about vintage watches. There’s still not that many voices for vintage watches, period,” says Nouveau. “It just so happens that my audience probably skews younger, and I’d say there are just as many young people interested in vintage watches as there are in modern watches.”

 

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A post shared by Mike Nouveau (@mikenouveau)

Nouveau recently posted a video to his TikTok account revealing that the average price of a watch purchased by Gen Z is now almost US$11,000 (around $16,500), with 41 percent of them coming into possession of a luxury watch in the past 12 months.

“Do as much independent research as you can [when buying],” he advises. “The more you do, the more informed you are and the less likely you are to make a mistake. And don’t bring modern watch expectations to the vintage world because it’s very different. People say, ‘buy the dealer’, but I don’t do that. I trust myself and myself only.”

Read more about the influencers shaking up horology here with Justin Hast, Brynn Wallner and Teddy Baldassare.

 

 

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This Pristine 1960 Ferrari 250 Spider Could Fetch $24 Million at Auction

The car wears the same colours and has the same engine it left the factory with.

By Bryan Hod 22/07/2024

Some Ferraris are just a little bit more important than others.

Take, for example, the 1960 250 GT SWB California that RM Sotheby’s is auctioning off during this year’s Monterey Car Week. Any example of the open-top beauty would attract interest, but this one just so happens to be the first one that was built.

The 250 is one of the most legendary series of cars in Ferrari history. Between 1952 and 1964, the company released 21 different 250 models—seven for racetracks, 14 for public roads—of which the “Cali Spider” might be the most well regarded, thanks to its potent V-12 and a Pininfarina-penned design that is one of the most beautiful bodies to grace an automobile. The roadster, which was specifically built for the U.S., made its debut in 1957 as a long-wheel-base model (LWB), but it wasn’t until the SWB model debut in 1960 that it became clear how special it was. This example isn’t just the first to roll off the line. It’s the actual car that was used to introduce the world to the model at the 1960 Geneva Motor Show.

1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider by Scaglietti Remi Dargegen/RM Sotheby’s

Just 56 examples of the 250 GT SWB California Spider would be built by Scaglietti during the three years it was in production. The first of those, chassis 1795 GT, is finished in a glossy coat of Grigio. The two-door had a red leather interior at Geneva but was returned to the factory and re-outfitted with black leather upholstery before being delivered to its original owner, British race car driver John Gordon Bennet. Six-and-a-half decades later the car looks identical to how it did when it left the factory the second time.

In addition to its original bodywork, the chassis 1795 GT features its original engine, gearbox, and rear axle. That mill is the competition-spec Tipo 168, a 3.0-litre V-12 that makes 196.1 kW. That may not sound like much by today’s standards, but, when you consider that the 250 GT SWB California Spider tips the scales around 952 kilograms, it’s more than enough.

Remi Dargegen/RM Sotheby’s

The first 250 GT SWB California Spider is scheduled to go up for bid during RM Sotheby’s annual Monterey Car Week auction, which runs from Thursday, August 15, to Saturday, August 17. Unsurprisingly, the house has quite high hopes for the car. The car carries an estimate of between $24 million and $26 million, which could make it one of the most expensive cars ever sold at auction.

Remi Dargegen/RM Sotheby’s

Monterey Car Week

 

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