CARMEL, Calif. — A red Ferrari set a record Thursday as the most expensive car ever sold auction.
The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, reportedly one of only 39 made, sold for $38,115,000 including the 10% commission at a Bonhams auction here. Auction officials say the sale easily topped the previous record of any car ever sold at auction, about $30 million for a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R F1 single-seat racer sold last year at a Bonhams auction in England.
But the GTO failed to meet widespread expectations that it could become the most expensive car ever sold -- period. That record belongs to a Ferrari GTO sibling sold in a private sale last year for about $52 million, according to McKeel Hagerty, a car auction expert and insurer of collectible cars.
Against predictions that the GTO would attract bids as high as $70 million, Hagerty spokesman Jonathan Klinger said that whoever the buyer may be, "they purchased a fantastic car at a great price." The car is considered precious because it was developed as a street car that also could be raced, the pinnacle in Ferrari design and engineering.
The sale was held in a tent here next to a posh golf club not far from Monterey, where car auctions and shows are going on all week
The GTO was the third car to be auctioned. It followed two other Ferraris that both went for less than $1 million. The GTO's price quickly climbed to $25 million, then bidding went forward in million-dollar increments until it hit about $34 million. Then bidding slowed to a snail's pace, with a huge crowd cheering every time a potential owner threw in another $100,000 or $250,000 to keep the auction alive.
Auctioneer Robert Brooks did his best to egg on bidders. "When is the next time a GTO will be at auction and will the next one be any less?" he asked as he scanned faces of the crowd and a bank of men manning phone lines.
Bonhams says the car was developed to race in the 1962 3-liter class FIA GT World Championship series. But it was involved in a crash early in its life that killed the driver, and was subsequently repaired. Experts say a crash involving a Ferrari of its type doesn't decrease the value. In fact, it appeared only to add to the mystique.
"Over the long decades since then, the Ferrari 250 GTO has commanded ever-increasing interest from the car connoisseur and art investor alike. Valuable levels have been achieved by the relatively few examples that have come to market over the past 20 years," Bonhams writes.