Auction backfire halts rare Porsche sale after $53 million mistake

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What’s a $53 million error among friends, collectors and vintage Porsche fanciers?

It likely what was the biggest blunder in car auction history, an auctioneer with a hard-to-decipher Dutch accent at RM Sotheby’s on Aug. 17 during Monterey Auto Week began bidding on a 1939 Porsche Type 64 at was heard at $30 million.

A blunder at RM Sotheby’s auction during Monterey Auto Week began with a $30 million opening bid for a 1939 Porsche Type 64.

The starting bid for the one-of-kind vehicle was actually $13 million. It’s what was expected for the spacecraft lookalike. Only three of the cars were built and the prototypeup for auction is the only survivor.

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But monitors in the room showed the bid at $30 million. It quickly escalated to $40 million, $50 million, $60 million and then $70 million.

While a stunned and quickly confused crowed was unsure what was happening, the auction monitor suddenly went from $70 million to $17 million.

If the Porsche had sold for $70 million, it would have been $20 million more than record price ever paid for a car at auction.

The auctioneer tried to amend the error, telling the crowd: “that’s $17 million, folks, not $70 million.”

“What a joke,” collector Johnny Shaughnessy who witnessed the mishap told Bloomberg News. “They (Sotheby’s) just lost so much credibility. My father could have bought that car for $5 million years ago. It has been passed around for years, and no one wants it.”

David Lee, a car collector and businessman from Los Angeles, told The New York Times: “When they mentioned 30 million to start, I thought that’s quite a strong starting price.”

The Porsche was predicted to sell for around $30 million, but after the mistake was discovered, no one bid higher than $17 million.

The sale was finalized at $17 million, but the Porsche did change owners because the selling price didn’t meet the $20 million reserve.

The Type 64 was constructed with many used VW Beetle parts. It has an air-cooled flat-four engine and built to compete in the Berlin to Rome road race. The event was a celebration of Nazi Germany’s alliance with Fascist Italy.

 

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