Pope's Harley Davidson smashes expectations at Paris auction

PARIS Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:43pm EST

1 of 3. Pope Francis signature is seen on the tank of his 1,585 cc Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide which is displayed as part of Bonham's Les Grandes Marques du Monde vintage and classic cars sale at the Grand Palais in Paris, February 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - A Harley-Davidson motorbike sold at auction on Thursday for almost 20 times its estimated value - because its previous owner was the pope.

Signed "Francesco" on its tank, the Dyna Super Glide sold for 241,500 euros ($328,300), with a Harley-Davidson leather jacket, also signed by the pope, going for 57,500 euros, both to anonymous bidders, auction house Bonhams said.

"It has to be a world record for a 21st century Harley-Davidson and certainly for a Harley-Davidson leather jacket," said Ben Walker, head of motorcycles at Bonhams. The motorbike had a pre-sale estimate of 12,000-15,000 euros.

The items were presented to the head of the Roman Catholic Church last June by the manufacturer to mark the U.S. brand's 110th anniversary.

In line with his focus on the poor, and his preference for modest modes of transport - he used to take public transport as a cardinal in Buenos Aires - Francis donated the motorbike to Catholic charity Caritas after signing it at a special ceremony at the Vatican in November.

The proceeds will go towards the renovation of a hostel and soup kitchen based at Rome's Termini railway station.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)