There were multiple press releases. There was a highly produced video. There was a Chris Harris Top Gear video. The hype generated for the auction of the only remaining Porsche Type 64 made it basically the Supra of the auction world. So last night, when a weird blunder deflated that hype and triggered a no sale, it was surprising.
The Type 64 is the car that connects Volkswagen to Porsche, designed under Adolf Hitler’s direction for a Berlin to Rome road rally. It’s a weird and unique piece of automotive history, with only three built and one surviving. As a result, the last Type 64 was expected to fetch around $20 million.
But, according to Bloomberg, the auctioneer opened the bidding at $30 million. Within a few bids, the price rocketed to $70 million! That price would make it the most expensive car ever sold, handily beating out the $48.4 million Ferrari GTO. That is, of course, if anyone had actually bid that much.
In a confusing turn of events, the auctioneer announced corrected himself. Despite the bids appearing on the screen as $30 million, $40 million and eventually $70 million, the actual bids started at $13 million. The top bid was for $17 million, not $70 million.
According to the Bloomberg story, no one really knew if this had been a surprising mistake from one of the most prestigious auction houses or a weird attempt at a joke to build more hype. Either way, it didn’t sit well with the audience.
After a lot of confusion and doubt as to whether they had been purposely tricked, there wasn’t a lot of interest in further bidding. No one came forward to top the $17 million bid, so the auction ended there. It appears as though that didn’t meet the reserve, as the car is still listed for sale. A video by an auction goer captured the whole mess:
Update: RM Sotheby’s provided the following statement:
We have been honored to present a car that holds such significance to automotive history as the 1939 Porsche Type 64. It has been an incredible journey in the lead up to Monterey as we were given the opportunity to share the genesis of one of the hobby’s most legendary brands with the world and work with renowned enthusiasts in the Porsche community. It is difficult to put a price on such a unique and historically significant artefact, and despite interest from discerning collectors, we were unable to reach common ground between seller and buyer on the night.
As bidding opened on the Type 64, increments were mistakenly overheard and displayed on the screen, causing unfortunate confusion in the room. This was in no way a joke or prank on behalf of anyone at RM Sotheby’s, rather an unfortunate misunderstanding amplified by excitement in the room. The auction was not canceled. The car reached a high bid of $17 million.
So after all of that excitement, the Type 64 auction reached a weird and unsatisfying ending.