On Feb. 6, Pope Francis’ autographed Harley Davidson motorcycle and leather jacket were auctioned in France, bringing in more than $350,000 for a local charity in Rome.
Presented to the Pope last June when Rome hosted the 110th anniversary celebration of the iconic American motorcycle, the Harley Davidson autographed by the pontiff was auctioned off at 210,000 euros – $284,000 – plus fees, which is nearly 15 times its normal retail price, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the newspaper, the buyer of the bike bid over the phone and asked to remain anonymous; however Bonhams, the auction house, revealed that there was a good chance the bike would stay in Europe.
Following the sale of the motorcycle, a leather jacket, also signed by Pope Francis, sold for more than 50,000 euros – roughly $70,000.
When the Pope announced last fall that he would be auctioning the Harley Davidson set, he also revealed that all proceeds will be given to fund the renovation of Caritas’ Don Luigi di Liegro Hostel and Soup Kitchen at Rome’s Termini train and metro station.
The two projects have operated since 1987 to help relieve the suffering of close to 1,000 people every day, Caritas Rome reports.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 6, Bonhams's head of collector motorbikes, Ben Walker, explained that the premium of the Pope’s Harley “is even higher than for, say, a Steve McQueen bike,” referring to the 1960s-70s actor and motorcycle collector.
In the past, Pope Francis has encouraged both clergy and religious to be humble in choosing their method of transportation, telling a group of seminarians and religious novices in July that he feels hurt whenever he sees a priest or a sister with a nice new car.
“And, if you like that beautiful car, think about how many children are dying of hunger,” he said, encouraging them to choose a simpler mode of transportation.
As a cardinal in Argentina, Pope Francis was well-known for taking public transportation.
In September, the Pope accepted a used Renault 4 with 186,000 miles on its odometer as the gift of an Italian priest.