History – How the biggest
Bugatti and Schlumpf are two names that have been interlinked for a long time. Fritz Schlumpf bought his first Bugatti at the age of 22 in 1928 and drove it on weekends and in car races. The car enthusiast kept in touch with the Alsace-based company Bugatti over the coming years, although his passion for collecting didn’t really develop properly until 1961. In 1957, they acquired a disused wool factory in Mulhouse, Alsace, in order to build their own automobile museum: in honour of their beloved mother and Ettore Bugatti, but mainly for Fritz Schlumpf himself. After all, collecting Bugatti cars had long become his obsession.
Schlumpf contacts Bugatti owners worldwide
Shakespeare had dedicated himself to collecting Bugatti vehicles since the 1950s: his first car was a 1932 Bugatti Type 55; this was followed by a Type 41 Royale Park Ward, the third and last customer car, twelve Type 57, three Type 55, and Ettore Bugatti's personal electric car Type 56 dating back to 1931. All in all, Shakespeare owned the largest Bugatti collection in the world, comprising some 30 vehicles.
Schlumpf simply had to get hold of these cars and made Shakespeare a lump-sum offer of USD 70,000. But the latter demanded at least USD 105,000, whereupon Schlumpf had the collection assessed by Bugatti connoisseur Bob Shaw from Illinois in 1963. Shaw arrived at an unflattering conclusion: Most of the cars are kept in a part of the building with a dirty floor, broken windows, leaking roof and nesting birds. Every car is in some state of disrepair and none of them have been running for at least 18 months. Shaw advised against the purchase but Schlumpf was fully committed by this time and offered Shakespeare USD 80,000 for the entire collection. After tough negotiations, mutual threats and blackmail, Schlumpf and Shakespeare finally agreed on a purchase price of 85,000 dollars the following year (equivalent to approximately USD 720,000 today) – including transport to France.
Apr 17, 2020 at 15:06