In addition to being one of America’s most famous comedians, Jerry Seinfeld also happens to be a car snob of the highest order. His collection of vintage automobiles is so vast that he got the itch to sell a large portion a few years ago. As his fleet is already heavy with Porsches, his favorite brand, Seinfeld worked with Gooding & Company to get over a dozen under the gavel and make room for newcomers. Among these was an extremely rare 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster. It sold in 2016 and, yada yada yada, eventually resulted in a big lawsuit.
Estimated to move at over $2 million, the model went for $1.54 million to Fica Frio Ltd. with the suit surfacing just a few days ago. According to details outlined in the lawsuit, it was brought to the United Kingdom after being purchased. Then, in March of 2017, Fica Frio asked Lee Maxted-Page, the Managing Director of Maxted-Page Limited (which knows its Porsches), to evaluate and prep the vehicle for resale. However, the appraiser expressed concerns that the Porsche might not be authentic.
From there, Fica Frio began talks with Gooding between February and April 2018 and eventually got into contact with Mr. Seinfeld. The lawsuit claims the comedian agreed (via voicemail) to return to Fica Frio the purchase price of the rare Porsche, plus all costs incurred, in exchange for Fica Frio returning the vehicle. Apparently, that deal never went down and a lawsuit was filed on February 2nd, 2019.
The plaintiff’s legal representation, Brown Rudnick LLP, are now seeking a full reimbursement of sale and “damages for the losses it has suffered in connection with the purchase.”
While the suit hinges on Maxted-Page’s expert assessment, it spends quite a bit of time dwelling on Seinfeld’s personal appearance at the auction and light accusations that the sale was an elaborate hoax. However, deciding if that’s accurate will be a tall order.
European Collectibles, the company that undertook the Speedster’s restoration, seems beyond reputable. The Better Business Bureau saw fit to give them an A rating and most customer reviews appear to be glowingly positive. The company also specializes in restoring European sports cars, with an emphasis on Porsche, and refuses to agree to the consignment of any car without a clean title — branded, rebuilt or salvage title vehicles are not accepted, according to the website.
Meanwhile, Gooding & Company requests that all sellers have their vehicles appropriately appraised by an expert and encourages as much authentication as possible. The auction description of the Seinfeld GS/GT, which is still available on Gooding & Co’s website, indicates that the vehicle was accompanied by a Porsche Kardex and a certificate of authenticity from the manufacturer, in addition, a tool roll and some model-specific reading material. Sadly, this did not include a coffee table book about coffee tables.
It seems like a pretty tight ship but we suppose that it’s possible the Porsche was phony. In addition to subsequent expert examinations, one of Fica Frio’s biggest complains revolved on a lack of photographic evidence of the Carrera’s restoration work and an inability to acquire much information form the person who sold the car to Mr. Seinfeld. Furthermore, the engine doesn’t match the chassis. While not abnormal for vintage sports cars produced in extremely limited numbers, that could indicate it was raced early in its life — a likely scenario, which makes pinning down its full history that much harder.
“Jerry has been working in good faith to get to the bottom of this matter. He has asked Fica Frio for evidence to substantiate the allegations. Fica Frio ignored Jerry and instead filed this frivolous lawsuit,” Seinfeld’s lawyers said in a statement to TMZ this weekend. “Jerry consigned the car to Gooding and Company, an auction house, which is responsible for the sale. Nevertheless, Jerry is willing to do what’s right and fair, and we are confident the court will support the need for an outside evaluator to examine the provenance of the car.”
Considering our continued use of Seinfeld references, it’s probably unwise for us to weigh in on the matter. But we’re under the assumption that the car is just too rare to accurately authenticate 100 percent of the time. Someone probably made a mistake and we’re keen to find out which party messed up.
[Lead image by David Shankbone [CC BY 3.0] Wikimedia commons]