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21 July 2015, 09:13
Auction in Monaco reaches higher than expected price.
Legendary soprano Maria Callas bought the two Mercedes Benz 600 limousines in 1967. They were used to transport her between performances during her European tours. One of the cars was fitted with a radio in the back, especially for the singer.
An extract of 'La Divina' - as Maria Callas was known - singing the first notes of the Habañera, from Bizet's Carmen, was played ahead of the start of bidding on the two lots.
The cars were estimated to sell for between $67,500-$112,000 each. The first reached $114,588 and the second $128,736. That's a total of £156,260 in UK currency. Both cars were bought by a European collector.
The sale, held by Arcurial - a leading French auction house - took place at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monte Carlo on Monday 20 July. Callas was a long-standing resident of Monaco and a close friend of Prince Rainier and his wife, the former actress Grace Kelly.
"This evening, the bids matched the scale of the Prima Donna’s immense talent," said Matthieu Lamoure, a managing director at Artcurial.
The two limousines were auctioned as part of a collection of 11 cars from the estate of a friend of the Callas family.
"A dynamic sale room, numerous telephone bids and a white glove result... Monaco is an exceptional playground!" said Lamoure.