The auction of a Nazi-era sports car designed by Ferdinand Porsche ended in boos after confusion caused by the auctioneer’s accent saw a $US17 million ($25 million) bid registered as $US70 million.
- Only three of the 1939 Type 64 were ever built, and bidding opened at $US13 million
- A misunderstanding saw $US30 million incorrectly displayed, which continued until the screen showed $US70 million
- RM Sotheby’s labelled the blunder a “totally inadvertent and unintentional mistake”
The auction of the 1939 Type 64 was expected to be the most expensive of a vehicle bearing the Porsche name, with talk that the silver coupe could reach $US20 million.
Dr Porsche, a member of the Nazi Party and the party’s paramilitary arm the SS, designed the Type 64 as a sports car version of his famous Volkswagen Beetle design.
Although the vehicle was produced by Volkswagen before the creation of the company which bears Dr Porsche’s name, it is considered an ancestor of the famous brand.
Only three of the Type 64 were ever built.
In front of a packed room at the annual RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey, California, auctioneer Maarten ten Holder announced the opening bid at $US13 million.
The 1939 Type 64 designed by Ferdinand Porsche remains for sale after the failed auction. (Supplied: Jack Schroeder/ RM Sotheby’s)
However, it was misunderstood as $US30 million and that number was displayed on large screens in the room.
As the bidding moved to $US14 million, the screen changed to $US40 million.
With more gasps and cheers from members of the audience, the trend continued until the screen showed $US70 million, and Mr ten Holder realised the mistake.
“It says 70, guys, but it’s 17,” Mr ten Holder said.
“It’s a bit exciting to write seven-zero, it may be my pronunciation, but it’s $17 million.”
Amid booing from people in the audience, the auction was terminated after the bidding failed to reach the reserve.
Dr Porsche designed the Type 64 as a sports car version of the Volkswagen Beetle. (Supplied: Jack Schroeder/ RM Sotheby’s)
The car remains for sale on the RM Sotheby’s website.
The company told Bloomberg it was an “unfortunate misunderstanding amplified by excitement in the room”.
“As bidding opened on the Type 64, increments were incorrectly displayed on the screen, causing unfortunate confusion in the room,” RM Sotheby’s said in a statement.
“This was the result of a totally inadvertent and unintentional mistake.”