Last August at Bonhams’s classic-car auction during the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance in Monterey, California, the first two autos sold uneventfully. But Lot No. 3—a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, one of only 39 made—was another story.
The gavel of Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks started the bidding at $10 million, a huge jump from the $1.5 million that the last 250 GTO sold for 27 years ago. And higher bids kept coming, just as fast as Brooks could point at the would-be buyers. In just 11 minutes, the sale ended with an unnamed Ferrari aficionado winning the car for $38.1 million. It became the most expensive auto ever sold at auction and it ripped my heart out because, in 1970, I had turned down an identical 250 GTO for $6,000. That very car just sold privately for $52 million.