Three heirs to an Italian coffee empire are being investigated for making and selling millions of dollars' worth of fake Ferraris. An elderly mechanic, the Italian government, and one pissed-off Ferrari chairman are involved, and no one's happy. Here's why.
Eighty-three years ago, an Italian entrepreneur named Romeo Dubbini indulged one of his passions and founded a coffee company in the small city of Padua. His company grew, and he passed it on to his son. His son became a rich man and a prominent, well-respected Ferrari collector and racer. Two decades ago, that son passed control of the company to his offspring — three sons, all of whom shared their father's passion for cars and coffee.
And then everything got weird.
The family's last name is Dubbini. The coffee is
Caffe Diemme, a brand sold mostly in Europe. The family's tie to cars, and the prancing horse in particular, is so strong that their company sells a Ferrari-licensed blend of coffee. The Ferrari-collector father, a man named Giulio, died a few years ago. Naturally, the three sons, along with a brother who is unconnected to the coffee firm, are now under investigation by the Italian government for building fake Ferraris and attempting to pass them off as real.
The Dubbini brothers — Gianandrea, 39; Sebastiano, 41; Federico, 44; and Manuela, 47 — along with a 73-year-old mechanic named Vittorio Nardo, are facing charges of falsifying titles and concealment, as well as the lesser charge of using faked historic cars on the road and in motor racing. The charges are the culmination of a six-month probe prompted by an anonymous tip to INAIL, the Italian national worker's compensation authority. (No, we don't understand how this falls under their jurisdiction, either.) The tip reportedly explained in great detail how the Dubbinis allegedly ran their operation, claiming that they bought old Ferraris on the cheap and transformed them into copies of rare collector's pieces, cars they owned, worth millions of dollars each. These cars were then misrepresented and sold, often at great profit.
Above: Federico Dubbini and his Ferrari 250 GT SWB in 2001.
A lawsuit against the Dubbinis is pending, although the Italian press did not specify who had filed it. Ferrari S.p.A. has also officially protested through CEO Luca di Montezemolo and his lawyer, sending a letter to the Italian courts and asking for a formal punishment for facts of "extreme gravity" and for claimed damage to Ferrari enthusiasts and the Ferrari brand.
All four brothers claim to be unaware of the cloning of their cars.
Photo Credit: F. Dubbini: Rita Stein; darkened Ferrari: Il Mattino di Padova; all others, Diemme Coffee