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A Hibou Car Mascot Appears At Auction: Buckle-Up!

Rene Lalique Hibou Owl Car Mascot

October 20th at Artcurial in Paris will see the first appearance at a major auction of a Hibou (Owl) Car Mascot in many years.

The general storyline amongst many dealers and collectors is that the Renard (Fox) Car Mascot is the rarest of the commercial models. But there have been several foxes appear in the last decade, and only a couple of owls (not including for either model any that have appeared as part of an entire R. Lalique Car Mascot collection). It is easily possible and even likely, that the rarest of the commercial mascots is not the fox, but is the owl.

How will this translate into price for the rare Hibou? We will all know soon enough. There are many variables but there are also many collectors missing the owl from their mascot collections. And times have changed in the bidding scene at auctions.

In the past, only a bidding ring of dealers might know about a particular piece at auction and possibly a small number of collectors or others that could be co-opted, cajoled, or threatened into not competing against them **. But this has changed dramatically with the appearance of this website and the attendant individual collector bidding on major pieces triggered by the Worldwide Auction Listings at RLalique.com. Now all interested parties can find out about most items that appear at auction, and individual collectors and others can compete worldwide with dealers, museums and other collectors for rare pieces. And notwithstanding reports of continuing efforts to suppress bidding at auction by certain notorious persons, now there are often just too many outside bidders for conspirators to even know about in advance, let alone “get to” ***.

Rene Lalique Hibou Owl Car Mascot -  Front ViewAlso, other techniques such as trash talking a piece, claiming it’s fake, or claiming it’s fatally damaged in order to put potential bidders off the item are also common techniques for some. We even received on email from one regular dealer in R. Lalique claiming this owl was cracked. Hmmmmmm. We’ve seen this barking before with a great opalescent Vitesse and a Renard at auction as just two examples), but of course, the pool of potential bidders is now so large, it’s just difficult to put them all off with wisecracks **** about likely fairy tale condition issues. And of course, most serious bidders will confirm condition directly with the auction house, and/or engage an independent consultant on major purchases.

The auction house has placed an extremely conservative estimate on the owl. In 1987 for example, before the peak of prices around 1990, a Hibou appeared at auction and sold for over 378,000 French Francs including the buyer’s premium. At the time, 26 years ago, this was the equivalent of over $66,000.

We are aware of reports of Hibou sales made privately in the past several years including at least one sold through this website, for prices that are multiples of the previous record auction price discussed above. These sales range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. To put this in perspective, we are aware of a sale of an owl mascot to a dealer in the last decade for a reported $150,000.

With the Fox Car Mascot making successive auction price records at its two most recent auction appearances (Fox Record Price 1, Fox Record Price 2), we would expect no less from what may be an even rarer chance to obtain this elusive prize.

SignShould be a wild ride ending a bit above the estimate :).

** See a series of articles published at RLalique.com discussing bid rigging at auctions.

*** “Get to” in this usage means influence.

**** A “wisecrack” is a clever remark.

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