A rare, bright-red Ferrari 250 GTO that initially sold for $6,000 in 1964 could soon be auctioned for $60m.
The record auction price for an automobile is the US$143 million (€135 million) paid for a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé at RM Sotheby’s last year. But there were only two of those cars built, and the other one is staying put at the company’s museum in Stuttgart, Germany. So, for stratospheric auction results in the near future, the Ferrari 250 GTO racer, of which 36 were made, is the firm focus.
A 1962 example of the 250 GTO is coming up for auction in New York on Nov. 13, again at RM Sotheby’s. The speculation is that chassis number 3765GT will top the previous auction record of US$48.4 million for the model set at Sotheby’s in 2018. The pre-auction estimate for this GTO is “in excess of” US$60 million.
“This is the moment. The only Series I GTO to be raced by Scuderia Ferrari. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase the 1962 Ferrari 330 LM/250 GTO—chassis 3765—after nearly four decades in private ownership,” RM Sotheby’s said in its auction announcement last week.
According to the Barchetta CC registry, the car has been owned since 1985 by James Jaeger of Cincinnati, Ohio. (He reportedly paid US$500,000 for it.) Jaeger showed it at numerous concours d’elegance events over the years, including Pebble Beach in 2011 and Amelia Island in 2012. A former owner was chairman of the Ferrari Club of America.
The car’s race history includes a Le Mans attempt in 1962, ending with the car retiring because of overheating, and, that same year, second place and a class first at the Nürburgring 1,000-kilometer race. Later in the 1960s, under private ownership, it was campaigned around Italy, winning three first overall results, and two second places. It came to the U.S. in 1970, and since then, has been exhibited sporadically.
“After looking over the car and driving it, I knew that this was the one,” Jaeger told The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news that he would auction it in November. “This car strikes every nerve in your body when you drive it.”
Philip Richter— co-chairman and president of Hollow Brook Wealth Managemen, and the co-founder of the Turtle Invitational concours event that takes place in Bedford, New York, on Sept. 24—says the GTO is “the most revered, iconic, and sought-after of any Ferrari model, and most of them trade hands privately. To have this one cross the block in New York is amazing.”
The Ferrari GTO story is a fabulous one. The US$48.4 million result is the highest auction price, but it was not the most paid for an example of the model. WeatherTech CEO David MacNeil bought chassis number 4153GT (a 1963 entrant) privately in 2018 for more than US$70 million and then spent another large sum to restore it to its appearance at the 1963 Le Mans (where it finished fourth).
The exact price he paid was never confirmed, but MacNeil told Magneto magazine “it was well more” than the reported US$70 million. “It was a few Bugattis away from the price that was reported. I think that’s hilarious.”
Ferrari GTOs rarely come up for auction, and many of their owners treasure their cars and aren’t likely to sell them. One such, chassis 3757GT, is owned by Nick Mason, the drummer in British rock group Pink Floyd. He reportedly paid US$54,000 in 1978, and turned down a US$35 million offer. Mason shows and competes in his GTO regularly in England. Another reason for Mason to keep his GTO is sentimental: It was put up as collateral to finance Pink Floyd’s huge A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour between 1987 and 1990.
Other selected GTOs by chassis number:
3223GT. Owned by Joseph M. Barone and Vanessa Wong in Honesdale, Pa. They reportedly paid US$10.6 million for it in 2004. This car was sent to distributor Luigi Chinetti Motors in 1962. Its first American owner, William McKelvy, paid US$18,500. In its early years, the GTO competed at Bridgehampton in Long Island, Daytona and Sebring in Florida, and Nassau in the Bahamas. It won the Daytona 24-hour race in 1966.
3387GT. It is owned by French billionaire François Perrodo, who bought the car via an English dealer circa 2016, when the asking price was around US$56 million. This follows lengthy ownership by Bernard Carl of Washington, D.C. This car was second overall at the Sebring 12 Hours in 1962, driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien. It was sixth overall (and third in class) at Le Mans that year.
3413GT. This is the car that sold at auction for US$48.4 million in 2018. It was owned until then by Greg Whitten of Medina, Washington. Whitten is an early Microsoft employee, with titles that included Chief Software Architect. He later served as chairman of Numerix Software. This car was campaigned extensively in Italy and England before Whitten paid US$7 million for it in 2000. Under his ownership it was raced in vintage events around the U.S. The current owner is unclear. “People kept asking me about selling the car,” Whitten said at the time, “and I eventually thought it was not a bad idea. … I miss it a little bit. But I like having cars that I can use more often.”
3451GT. Owned by Lawrence Stroll, a major Ferrari collector who is also a Montreal-based fashion executive and billionaire. This car was fourth overall at the Targa Florio in 1962. Stroll bought it in 1996 and has since run it worldwide in historic events.
3505GT. Owned by Craig McCaw, a cable TV pioneer who sold McCaw Cellular to AT&T for US$11.5 billion in 1994. McCaw reportedly paid US$35 million for his Ferrari in 2012. He brought it to the Amelia Island Concours in 2015. Built for British race car driver Stirling Moss, it failed to finish at Le Mans in 1962, but later that year it was first overall at Brands Hatch, driven by Innes Ireland.
3987GT. Owned by billionaire fashion designer Ralph Lauren, who owns hundreds of the world’s finest collector cars. Lauren bought the 250 GTO in 1985 for US$650,000. This Ferrari was first overall at the 1,000 Kilometers of Paris race in 1962 before being shipped to Luigi Chinetti in New York. The Mecom Racing Team of Houston ran it to many impressive results in Nassau and Florida, frequently piloted by Roger Penske.
It’s possible that some GTO owners will be swayed by the staggering prices paid for these cars to put their own treasured example on the block. But it’s just as likely that these very wealthy individuals value their memories over the potential windfall.