This was a huge gaffe by an auction house.
As we come to the close of the year and decade, it's time to look back at the biggest stories of 2019. One huge standout in an eventful twelve months was when RM Sotheby's completely botched the auction of a rare Porsche Type 64. A huge wave of anticipation has been building to tsunami levels as the ultra-rare Porsche Type 64 was about to cross the auction block in Monterey. Then, a gaffe blew up the whole process, with the German car not selling. What’s more, people at the auction were booing and walking out, obviously disappointed with the situation.
After playing videos of the lightweight racecar on screens while dramatic music played, the emcee gave a mini-sermon about the Type 64 being the automotive holy grail. With that kind of buildup, the actual car was wheeled out, then bidding was opened at $30 million. That was shocking, because the car was anticipated to sell for about $20 million, but the desire to own the Porsche was high, so people immediately bid.
Quickly the amount built to an astronomical $70 million, with attendees on their feet as they clapped and cheered. Then the emcee had the current bid switched to $17 million, not $70 million. That was too much for the crowd, with numerous people walking out and many booing the emcee. You can see it all play out in the video below.
This was not some simple gaffe, since on the screen at the front of the room $30 million was clearly displayed as the opening bid. If it had sold for $70 million, the Porsche Type 64 would’ve been the most expensive car ever sold at auction by over $20 million.
RM Sotheby’s released a statement affirming that the situation wasn’t some planned joke, but rather that as the bidding opened “increments were mistakenly overheard and displayed on the screen.” That’s a huge mistake.
It’s apparent the $17 million high bid did not meet reserve, so the 1939 Porsche Type 64 won’t exchange hands after all. What was anticipated to be perhaps the most exciting auction at Monterey for 2019 actually did come with quite a bit of energy, just not in the way RM Sotheby’s wanted.