Amazing Million-Dollar Bugatti Collection Uncovered In Poor Artist’s Barn

It was only a week ago when we came across an 80-car collection that was left collecting dust for years and already we get another story about three (!) classic Bugattis that apparently were kept hidden for decades by their owner, a Belgian sculptor named August Thomassen.

Thomassen bought the three Bugattis between the late 1950s and early 1960s, in a period when values were bottomed out for these cars. The sculptor was a big fan of Bugatti’s design and engineering since then, according to his daughter who spoke to Dutch De Telegraaf newspaper.

The cars -a 1932 Type 49 Berline and a 1937 Type 57 Cabriolet, both with custom coachwork- were maintained and used as daily drivers for many years, while there’s also a 1929 Type 40, for which Thomassen was going to create his own coachwork after an accident but never finished the project.

Thomassen’s love for the brand was immortalized when he sculpted the bust of Ettore Bugatti that’s currently on display at the National Automobile Museum in France.

The owner’s daughter said that they frequently received offers from collectors but her dad refused to part ways with his cars, even though they “hardly had money as a family”.

Eventually Thomassen’s poor financial condition forced him to lock the cars into his studio barn in Belgium, blocking the door with piles of sandbags for added protection.

The three Bugattis remained locked in the barn up until last year, when someone broke into the building, allegedly as a recon mission for a theft. With Thomassen now being 95 years old and not able to drive, the decision was taken; the three Bugattis must go, together with a 1925 Citroen Torpedo that was also locked with them.

The three Bugattis will be auctioned in Artcurial’s Rétromobile 2019 event in Paris on February 8, with specialists expecting to fetch for over $1 million combined. The most precious of the three is the 1937 Type 57 Cabriolet, which is expected to sell for as much as $690,000 (600,000 euros).


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  • ErnieB

    Us crazy artists!!!

  • Six_Tymes

    an amazing story for sure. but he couldn’t have been poor if he was able to buy these in the first place, even during the 50’s and 60’s these were out of reach of poor people. I am not suggesting he was wealthy, but couldn’t have been poor either.

    • Axiom Ethos

      These cars were practically worthless back in the late 50’s so it’s very possible he was. Also, “Eventually Thomassen’s poor financial condition” doesn’t imply that he was necessarily poor when he bought the cars either, just that he was later on.

  • TrevP

    That is insane. What an awesome piece of history.

  • I love the history of this, also this is probably last chance to get an authentic Bugatti (Since you know, now there is more pre-war Bugatti then what they made back in the day).

  • Shobin Drogan

    Dude is 95 and only chose to sell those cars now? I dont know for how long he’s been “poor” but it seems like he missed out on a lot of cash that he could’ve lived with.

  • Stephen G

    Hoarding and collecting are not the same thing.

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