Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ferrari fever

My wife once danced with the late Eddie Smith Sr. about 10 years ago when we were taking shag lessons at the Robbins Center. We had to practice our steps by changing partners every so often, so Kim ditched me for Eddie. He was very much the gentleman to my wife. I don't think he stepped on her toes at all.

I knew Eddie had been a former mayor of Lexington and that he was a respected local humanitarian/philanthropist with a compelling rags-to-riches tale tacked on to his résumé.

I didn't know he owned a Ferrari.

And not just any Ferrari, but a rare 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spyder at that. Only 10 of them were ever built, and one of them, which belonged to actor Steve McQueen, was rear-ended in a wreck. I guess that means only nine of them remain on the planet.

Last night, the car was put up for auction by the family in the hopes that it would raise millions for charity.

I really wanted to see the auction live, conducted by RM Auctions in Monterey, Calif., but I didn't see any possibilities on my Time Warner cable lineup.

So I went to my computer and googled "rare Ferrari auction", which got me to RM Auctions. And there, at the bottom of the page, was a button to connect me to the live feed to the auction.


This was about 10 p.m. I sat through an hour of rare Mercedes, Austins, Ferraris, et al, being put on the block, with several of them ultimately fetching $1 or $2 million.

Who has that kind of cash for a car, I wondered.

Anyway, around 11:15 p.m., the Ferrari was rolled out. Its estimated pre-auction value was already $14 million, but auctions can be dicey things. They're risky. My wife's family held an estate auction to liquidate her parents' property, and sales were somewhat disappointing, even in a recessive economy. So I wasn't sure if the Ferrari would reach the $14 million level.

My wife was on the phone with a high school classmate at the time, so I brought the laptop into the kitchen so she could see the auction in progress.

Almost immediately, the first bid was for $16 million, just under the record $16.4 million for any Ferrari ever sold at auction.

Holy smokes.

A few moments passed as potential buyers had time to come to their senses, but the next bid hit $17 million to break the record. I was astounded. A few more minutes passed as the auctioneer tried to coax a few more dollars from these world-class buyers as they sipped their champagne from crystal flutes, but nothing happened. Well, that's that, I thought.

Then, suddenly, the auctioneer got excited as the next bid leaped to $20 million. My mouth dropped. Kim stopped dead in her phone conversation. The $20 million figure had been given as the high end of the car's expectations, but it didn't stop there. In moments, the figure became $23 million, then $24 million, and finally, $25 million.

Eddie Smith's 1967 Ferrari sold for $25 million at auction. Before fees.

I wasn't sure if I could believe what I was seeing. That was amazing.

This morning, in an attempt to find a video clip of the auction to insert in my blog, I came across an item from that said a rare Ferrari NART Spyder sold for $27.5 million, plus fees, last night, setting a record.

Fees. What does that mean? Does that include the auction house commission? Administration fees? Taxes? I don't know how this works.

And who was the buyer? Will the car be driven, or placed in a museum? And if it's a driver, what kind of insurance do you put on a car like that?

None of those questions really mater, of course.

What does matter is that Eddie Smith's incredible legacy continues moving forward.

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