There are those in the collector community today who feel they have been duped and betrayed by auction house RM Sotheby's, and the reasoning is absurd. During Saturday night's Monterey sale, RM Sotheby's brought perhaps the most valuable Porsche ever to the auction stage for bidding. The Type 64 racer is the first car ever to carry the Porsche name, years before Ferdinand built the first 356. This car is built largely using off-the-shelf Volkswagen components, but enough of this thing has been changed, including its basic chassis, that it truly warrants the name of first Porsche ever.
This car was built specifically to further the Nazi agenda, running in the Berlin-to-Rome long distance race which was dreamed up as a public relations stunt to showcase the power of the Axis pact. That's not what caused the kerfuffle last night, however. The problem was that the car was too cheap, somehow.
The car was expected to sell for around $20 million. Which is why everyone got a little excited when the opening bid was $30 million. That jumped to 40, then 50, then 60, and 70 in rapid succession. Except that it didn't. Because of the auctioneer's accent, the person running the display board heard the actual opening bid of $13 million as thirty. Watch the video below, and you'll be hard pressed to determine 13 from 30, but when the auctioneer starts asking for increments of $500,000, that should have been enough of a tip off to note that the actual bidding wasn't progressing in tens of millions.
The gaffe seems like nothing more than that, but when the auctioneer takes a second to correct the display from $70,000,000 to $17,000,000, the room absolutely deflates, and no further bids are made on the car. The excitement is replaced by a disgusting display of humanity. The murmuring, the hollering, and the outright booing that happened afterward show that humans collectively have lost all sense of civility. While some are decrying the incident as nothing more than further publicity for the auction house, that line of thinking makes no sense. I'm sure RM Sotheby's would prefer to walk on and forget all about this incident (in fact, the auction's live stream has been removed from YouTube) rather than display perhaps its biggest mistake in recent history to the world.
In any case, $17 million wasn't enough to take the Type 64 home.