It sounds like something out of a cheesy Hollywood movie, but this story is indeed real. Christopher Gardner was arrested by the FBI for the 2001 theft of a $10 million French car, according to WISN ABC12, a Milwaukee based television station. He’s accused of stealing an ultra-rare 1938 Talbot Lago “Teardrop” coupe from a business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the start of the new millennium.
From the article:
“On Sunday morning they put on white overalls and backed up a truck to the garage door to make it look like it was a legit loading,” Joe Ford, a former co-owner of the Talbot Lago, told WISN. “They loaded all the parts right into this box truck, and I think by 8 o’clock in the morning, they were gone.”
According to the FBI, a few years later in 2006, Gardner smuggled the car to Switzerland in pieces. It was then restored in France.
That being said, the car hasn’t remained in Gardner’s possession since then. He allegedly sold the car to an Illinois-based buyer in 2015 for $7.6 million. There was then a legal battle between the new owner and the estate of the car’s original owner, who died in 2005.
The FBI arrested Gardner in December 2021 in Switzerland, where he was living at the time. However, this wasn’t his first brush with law. During the summer of that same year, Gardner was arrested in Italy and placed under house arrest. Soon after he fled.
He was also indicted in 2019 on four courts of wire fraud as well as one count of transportation of a stolen vehicle in foreign commerce, according to WISN 12 News.
Gardner will now be extradited to Milwaukee where he is set to face federal charges. Though, going to Milwaukee in the dead of winter may be punishment enough.
There was actually a $10,000 reward for anyone who had information leading to Gardner’s arrest, but right now it’s not clear if anyone will be claiming that money.
The 1938 Talbot Lago in question is one of just 16 cars ever made, making it, as you may imagine, quite expensive.
And where is the car now? According to WISN, it’s currently sitting in a Massachusetts garage in the custody of the owner from Illinois.
It’s estimated that the “Teardrop” is worth at least $10 million today. In our crazy car market, that’s the same price as a lightly used Tacoma.