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Historic Spitfire soars in record-breaking London sales

The immaculately restored World War II aircraft was the star in a remarkable week of sales that featured Marie Antoinette’s chair, and rare works by celebrated Old Masters

Having attracted media attention across the world, the immaculately restored Vickers Supermarine Spitfire P9347 sold for £3,106,500, establishing a new world record price for any Spitfire at auction. One of only two restored Mk.1 models still flying, the historic plane inspired competitive bidding, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £1,500,00–2,500,000, and proving to be a highlight of The Exceptional Sale 2015 at Christie’s King’s Street HQ in London.

Part of a generous gift from American philanthropist and art collector Thomas Kaplan, Spitfire P9347 was sold to benefit the RAF Benevolent Fund, leading wildlife conservation charity Panthera, WildCRU and Stop Ivory. A second model, Spitfire N3200, also belonging to Thomas Kaplan, was gifted to the Imperial War Museum Duxford on 9 July, and was welcomed by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

Commenting on the sale, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the Battle of France, Kaplan said, ‘Today’s events are, more than anything else, concrete gestures of gratitude and remembrance for those who prevailed in one of the most pivotal battles in modern history… it is with full hearts that we congratulate the buyers at the auction, as well as the Imperial War Museum, for their new acquisitions.’

Nic McElhatton, Chairman of Christie’s South Kensington added, ‘Bringing this iconic and historic aircraft to auction has captivated collectors and enthusiasts around the world. It has been an extraordinary project for Christie’s to work on, and we have all been in awe of Thomas Kaplan’s incredible generosity.’

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