The Guggenheim Museum in New York has sold an original M1 Procar, which was painted by Frank Stella back in 1979. The prestigious museum was forced to sell the unique BMW M1 Art Car in order to raise funds and make way for other works of art. The car sold for $ 854,000 at a Bonhams auction during the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance back in August.
The famed BMW Art Cars series began in 1975 when artist Alexander Calder was commissioned by BMW to paint a car that was to be raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There are only 18 BMW Art Cars in existence, created by artists hand-selected by BMW including Alexander Calder, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol.
Commissioned in 1979, the Frank Stella BMW M1 Procar was painted to Stella’s “Polar Coordinates” design and created for Stella’s close friend and race-car driver Peter Gregg. This was the only time that a BMW-commissioned artist created a car for anyone other than the manufacturer itself. The “Polar Coordinates” design is based on a series of prints that Stella made in homage to his friend, Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson, who passed away during the 1978 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The M1 Art Car by Frank Stella was acquired by Jonathan Sobel, owner of BMW of Southampton and an avid art collector. He became the only private owner of a BMW Art Car. Sobel said:
The Stella M1 combines my two hobbies and passions, art and automobiles. It represents the marriage of art, engineering, and functional design.
The car will be on public display at the BMW of Southampton showroom in 2012 in its new facility.