RM Sotheby’s auction in California last week had it all - an iconic car, a cashed-up crowd, Nazi historical connections and a controversial conclusion.
An embarrassing blunder by the auctioneer caused chaos at the potential sale of one of Porsche’s most iconic vehicles. The company’s auction of the Porsche Type 64 at the Monterey car week was expected to fetch for more than US$20m ($29m) for the rare sports car but instead it went unsold after the auctioneer messed it up.
The Type 64, a car referred to by Porsche itself as the “great grandfather” of every sports car to come from the Stuttgart brand, was designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1939 using many components and ideas taken from his Volkswagen Beetle design. It was meant to compete in a race that year between Germany and Italy to celebrate the ties between the Nazi government of the time and facist Italy.
Unfortunately World War Two broke out and Porsche had to wait until 1948 before he could create his first production-ready model - the 356; which shares many similarities with the Type 64. So naturally the anticipation was high for the auction of the Type 64 last week, with only two examples every produced and surviving the war.
For some reason, with some claiming a mistake while others declaring it a bad joke, the auctioneer started the bidding at US$30m ($44m) and eventually reaching US$70m ($103m). However, he corrected himself and said he meant to start at US$13m ($19m) and the bidding had only reached US$17m ($25m). At this point the audience was both laughing and booing resulting in a swift and embarrassing end to what should have been a historic night of sales.
As it stands the Type 64 is still for sale on the RM Sotheby’s website, but there is no indication yet if they will attempt to auction it again.