Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ferrari worth a Fortune in Fables

When they announced the winning bid for the Ferrari — $38.1 million — the crowd at the Bonham's auction in Monterey, California, cheered the record price.

Sold was a rare, curvaceous, powerful, red 1962 240 GTO Berlinetta.

Bottom line, it is no more than a collection of metal parts. This one had been crashed and rebuilt. Here in Oregon its title wouldn’t be considered “clear.”

My first reaction to the fall of the auctioneer’s gavel was to ask: what might $38.1 million buy besides this?

Scholarships for the talented and gifted poor.

Retirement of student debt.

Care for the sick (think ebola in West Africa).

Wells and water for thirsty, drought-stricken villages.

Homes for the homeless.

The list is endless.

But somewhere, someone with $38.1 million in loose change decided in his wisdom that highest and best use in this troubled world was ownership of this car.

Not surprisingly, the possessor of this “pride of ownership” was not revealed. Somebody knows what hubris is.

No, I did not cheer the sale. I wondered why others would.

We are told that shock turns to anger, then grief, then acceptance.

Now, five days after the sale, I have arrived at “creative therapy.”

The sale of the Ferrari stretches the imagination.

For one thing, $38.1 million is no longer locked up in some bank account. The Ferrari had freed it. The money could go to work.

But doing what?

Who got the check? And what would that person (or persons) do with the money? After all, the the car had been owned by one family for 49 years, from 1965 to 2014. Why did they sell it? Boredom? They got tired of red? They were in the red?

I began to imagine scenarios. Some uplifting, some ironic, some funny, some even more outrageous than the sale itself.

Here are a few:

What does one do with a car like this? Where can one go and not be A, envied, B despised or C shunned? At Walmart they gawk. At the Ritz, they see uncouth ostentation.

What does one say to: “Hey Dad, can I take the Ferrari tonight?”

What does one say to the dying, emaciated ebola patient who is told the news in his crowded death tent in Liberia?

What happens when the owner is “outed”?

Call a press conference? Hire a PR firm? Subject oneself to questions about the homeless, the starving, the thirsty? About those forced to travel on foot, in the heat, without shoes or superchargers?

Auditioned response: “I’ll have to get back to you on that one….”

Too dangerous to park in public. Hire motorcycle escorts and body guards. How about trucking the beast for safety’s sake? After all, Mercedes make really nice trucks. You can even sleep in them. Try that in the GTO.

The shrewd seller, with $38.1 mil in his pocket might use the money to buy, oh 38 new Ferraris at a million a crack and watch them appreciate.

Maybe the buyer is trying to impress a certain someone. Good luck with that. Stay clear of certain someones impressed by a $38.1 million Ferrari. Then again perhaps Ferrari-infatuated couples deserve each other. But wait, who gets to drive the Berlinetta? A stablemate is needed. The Rolls will no longer do.

Suddenly you need another Ferrari.

There’s this guy I know who just bought 38 of them….There’s an auction house crowd eager to cheer as you bid up the price.

Aesop wrote fables. Why not Ferrari?

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