NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 1941 custom Cadillac limousine designed for Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Windsor is expected to fetch as much as $800,000 when it is sold next month in New York, RM Auctions and Sotheby’s said on Thursday.
The luxury car, one of the most famous Cadillacs ever made, was known as “The Duchess.” It was used to transport the Duke and his wife, Wallis Simpson, while they stayed in New York, where they spent much of their time in a suite at the Waldorf Towers on Park Avenue.
The car, which the couple used for 11 years and was thought to have been destroyed, has not been seen in public since 1952. It will be sold in the Art of the Automobile auction on November 21.
“This Cadillac is an exceptionally important part of both automotive and social history,” said Alain Squindo, vice president, RM Auctions. “From front to back and throughout the entire interior, it is a design statement unlike any other to come from Detroit in those years.”
The duke, formerly King Edward VIII, abdicated in December 1936 after less than a year on the throne to marry Simpson, a divorced American. The decision triggered a constitutional crisis in Britain and remains one of the most enduring love stories of the 20th century.
The couple traveled extensively throughout their marriage, and the duke served as governor of the Bahamas from 1940-45.
The car, which appeared in newsreels and photos of the famous couple, includes hand-crafted doors and fenders, walnut finishes in the interior, custom-dyed woolen carpet, power windows, satin privacy curtains and four stainless-steel, velvet lined cases to hold the duchess’s jewels. The Windsor “W.E.” monogram and crown are featured on the door.
Records show the Duke of Windsor paid $14,000 for the art deco design limousine, which was an extravagant price in 1941.
“It is emblematic not only of the grace and elegance that characterized the couple, but it is a truly bespoke piece, befitting its regal owners,” Leslie Keno, senior international specialist from Sotheby’s, said in a statement.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Eric Walsh