A TREASURE trove of 60 classic cars worth an estimated €16million will go on sale early next year after spending 50 years gathering dust at a property in the Deux-Sèvres.
A limited-edition Ferrari 250 California once owned by Alain Delon is the top item alongside other classics from Bugatti and Maserati that will go under the hammer at the Rétromobile show at the Porte de Versailles in Paris on February 6.
The extraordinary collection was built up by entrepreneur Roger Baillon from the 1950s to the 1970s. He had planned to restore them and put them on display in a museum, but he went bankrupt and was forced to abandon the project and sell half of his cars.
His grandchildren, who inherited the property near Niort last year, had no idea how much the vehicles in the barn were worth, until they called in auctioneers.
Some of the cars are in need of a lot of work, having spent several decades sitting dormant under a makeshift corrugated iron shelter.
Matthieu Lamoure at auctioneer Artcurial Motorcars said: "You go into this profession for discoveries like this. This really is a treasure. No doubt a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.
"When we arrived here, we found ourselves overcome with emotion. Probably much like Lord Carrington and Howard Carter, on being the first person for centuries to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb. It really was a case of waking up sleeping beauty."