Auction of ‘First’ Porsche Starts at $30 Million by Mistake: 'It Was a Screw-Up'

Claudia Harmata

The RM Sotheby’s Auction had a bit of a mishap Saturday night during the selling of what some car collectors call the “first” Porsche.

Over the weekend, car fanatics gathered in Monterey, California, to witness the bidding of Lot No. 362, the famed Porsche Type 64 — a Nazi-era car built by Ferdinand Porsche nine years before he started his famed car company. It was one of three of its kind produced at the time, but the last one remaining.

According to the New York Times, the vintage vehicle was supposed to open at $13 million during the Saturday night action, however, the bidding accidentally started at $30 million by mistake.

“When they mentioned 30 million to start, I thought that’s quite a strong starting price,” David Lee, a car collector and businessman from the Los Angeles area told the NYT. He then explained that the auctioneer had an accent “and didn’t say the teens well,” making it difficult to understand whether he was saying “30” or “13.”

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The Porsche bidding took another wrong turn when the lot, which was only supposed to take bids in increments of $1 million or less, showed bids skyrocketing by increments of $10 million.

The room was filled with excitement as auctiongoers saw the bids jump from $30 million to $40 million to $50 million and then $60 million.

The final, highest bid was a whopping $70 million before the auctioneer noticed the grand mistake and announced that the final bid was actually $17 million and not $70 million.

“It was a screw-up and, chiefly, it let the air out of the balloon when it went from $70 million to $17 million,” John Bothwell, director of Pur Sang, an international automotive manufacturer, told the NYT.

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The outlet reported that after the announcement was made, the energy in the room shifted as audience members and bidders “gasped and groaned” over the mistake.

“As bidding opened on the Type 64, increments were mistakenly displayed on the screen, causing unfortunate confusion in the room,” RM Sotheby’s said in a statement on Sunday. “We take pride in conducting our world-class auctions with integrity and we take our responsibility to our clients very seriously.”

The statement continued, “This was in no way intentional on behalf of anyone at RM Sotheby’s, rather an unfortunate misunderstanding amplified by the excitement in the room.”

Although the one-of-a-kind, historic Porsche received a total bid of $17 million, the amount was below the minimum price set by the seller, failing to sell and causing RM Sotheby’s to stop the auction.

“We will continue making every effort to sell the car,” the auction house told the outlet, explaining that they now plan to advertise the car on its auction website.