It’s been a good week for classic Ferraris – depending upon who you talk to. At a Bonhams sale held late last week at Carmel, California’s Quail Lodge & Golf Club, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO became the priciest car ever to sell during an automotive auction, raking in a record-breaking $38 million. Yet, somehow that massive price tag proved a bit of a disappointment. Turns out the vintage Ferrari set had predicted the rich red racer would fetch upward of $60 million.
One of only 39 ever built, No. 3851 was the 19th GTO completed on September 11, 1962. Its original co-owners were French Formula One and sports car racer Jo Schlesser and gold medal skier-turned-race car driver Henri Oreiller. In the car’s first outing, at the Tour de France in 1962, Schlesser and Oreiller finished the race in second place. Its next outing would prove less celebratory. During the Coupes du Salon at Montlhery, Oreiller was killed when he crashed into a building, causing heavy damage to the car.
The car then headed back to the Ferrari factory for a rebuild before being sold to hill climb racer Paolo Colombo in 1963, then later to Italian Formula One racer Ernesto Prinoth, at whose hands the car again would be heavily damaged in a 1965 accident at the Coppa Inter Europa at Monza. Later that year, famed Ferrari collector and vintage car racer Fabrizio Violati bought the wrecked car for around $4,000, who would own it longer than any other 250 GTO built. Violati raced the car in vintage events until his death in 2010 at age 74.
The car’s latest custodian owned it for just a few months, apparently purchasing it with the intention of turning a quick profit. No word on just how much the owner pocketed after the gavel fell at that “disappointing” $38 million. But he took home well more than half the total $65.945 million paid for all the Ferraris that sold at Bonhams that day, including a 1962 250 GT Short-Wheelbase Speciale Aerodinamica that went for $6.875 million, a 1953 250 Mille Miglia Berlinetta driven to racing victory by Phil Hill for $7.26 million and a 1978 312 T3 Formula One car for $2.31 million. The GTO’s new owner now enters an elite circle of fellow GTO owners that includes fashion mogul Ralph Lauren, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Wal-Mart heir Rob Walton.
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