It appears that the auction house tried to shoot too high, but instead shot itself in the foot.
The auction for the 1939 Porsche Type 64 was supposed to be the highlight of the 2019 Monterey Car Week; instead, it turned out to be more of a gag reel. Not only did this epic auction fail by RM Sotheby's result in the car not selling, but Bloomberg reports that the auction snafu could further hurt the car's legacy.
Watch exactly what happened in the video below:
Whether it was intended to rile up the crowd or actually an accident as RM Sotheby's claims, the article seems to lean toward the incident being intentional. For starters, the Type 64 was expected to hammer for around $20 million, while the initial starting bid sounded a lot like "thirty" million. Another piece of evidence is the fact that the person responsible for displaying the prices had made no other such mistake in the previous RM Sotheby's that week.
Even worse, this highly publicized event may have perfectly exposed the "art" of ghost bidding. The car's price quickly went from $30 million to $70 million on the screen before it was corrected, but as the article points out, it's not even clear how many, if any, of the bids were real that would have actually raised the price from $13 million to $17 million. In some of the many videos that were taken of this bidding process, it's hard to see anyone actually bidding on the car.
As for the car itself, the article indicates that any sale was doomed to begin with as pre-auction sales had all fallen through due to this Porsche being "over-exposed" – among collectors who can afford this type of car. Apparently, the Type 64 has been on the market for years with no takers, so the wealthy collectors who already knew about weren't going to pay higher prices when they could have purchased it privately before.
There's no doubting the history, rarity and provenance of the 1939 Porsche Type 64, but it will be interesting to see if – or when – this car ever resurfaces at a public auction like this.