From movie royalty to Qatari royalty, Bardot’s boat joins a Sheikh’s Geneva shuttle at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba sale

Villa Erba


  • 1959 Riva Florida known as ‘Nounours’, formerly the property of screen siren Brigitte Bardot, to be offered at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba sale, 23 May on Lake Como, Italy
  • Exclusive evening auction also features the 1975 Riva Aquarama Special, known as ‘Shaheen’, formerly owned by Sheikh Hamad-al-Thani, Emir of Qatar
  • Pair of classic boats join a handpicked roster of blue-chip automobiles at the highly anticipated Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este auction
  • Event details and a frequently updated list of entries available online at



LONDON (12 March, 2015) – In recent years, RM Sotheby’s has offered a number of highly significant Riva motor boats alongside the many wonderful and historic classic cars for which the company has a worldwide reputation. In keeping with that trend, RM is delighted to announce that it will be offering two additional notable Rivas at its forthcoming biennial sale during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy, 23 May.

Constructed by Carlo Riva at his Lake Iseo yard, Rivas are amongst the most coveted motor boats in the world, resplendent with their lovingly hand-crafted wooden decks and hulls, powerful engines and luxuriously appointed fittings. They have always been objects of desire and many were sold to the world’s most stylish and powerful people. Where sheer glamour is concerned, it’s hard to imagine anyone more idolised during the 1950s and 60s than French actress, Brigitte Bardot; it will therefore be of huge interest to collectors that RM is offering the boat she owned at the zenith of her career at its upcoming Lake Como auction.


Known as ‘Nounours’, the 1959 Riva Florida, hull no. 341, was purchased new on the behalf of film director and the former husband of Brigitte Bardot, Roger Vadim, at the Monaco Boat Service in 1959. It was then gifted by Vadim to Bardot who kept it at her famous St. Tropez villa, ‘La Madrague’, where it was often seen moored outside. Bardot used the boat regularly during the early 1960s, after which it was sold to a well-known restaurateur in the St. Tropez region where it remained for many years. The boat changed hands again in 1996 and in the years since has benefitted from a full specialist restoration. Often referenced in books on Brigitte Bardot’s life and career, ‘Nounours’ is an icon of the famous St. Tropez ‘Jet-Set’ period in the 1960s (Estimate: €80.000-€120.000).


RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba sale will also lift the hammer on the Riva Aquarama Special, known as ‘Shaheen’. Constructed in 1976, hull no. 652 was sold new by the Riva yard in Sarnico to Sheikh Hamad-al-Thani, Emir of Qatar. Built and delivered directly by Riva to the al-Thani residence in Versoix on Lake Geneva, Switzerland, the boat is a series II Aquarama Special, featuring two V-8 Riva 350 engines. ‘Shaheen’ is the name of a highly reputed species of falcon found in the in the Middle East, but the Sheikh always kept the vessel in Switzerland and it still benefits from its original Swiss registration documents. The present owner has spared no expense maintaining the boat and it was extensively restored to perfection by RAM Sarnico in 2003-2005 (Estimate: €350.000-€500.000).


Augustin Sabatié-Garat, specialist at RM Sotheby’s, says: “In recent years we have had the privilege of presenting numerous interesting and valuable classic boats at auction, and the two Rivas on offer at Villa Erba are two very fine examples indeed. Both herald from the Italian lakes, so it is wonderful and highly appropriate to bring them back to Lake Como to be sold.”


For further information on RM Sotheby’s sale during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este or to view a frequently updated list of entries, please call +44 (0) 20 7851 7070 or visit



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