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Federal Marshals: Stock Crash Dampened Bids For Ferrari Race Car

October 27, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A rare Ferrari race car, on the auction block for more than $1.5 million, sits unsold in a federal marshal’s impound lot. Officials blame the stock market’s nosedive for holding down the bids.

All the bids, including some exceeding $1.5 million, were rejected Monday.

Federal marshals, who confiscated the car from the estate of a murdered, accused drug dealer, demanded minimum bids of $1.5 million. They and Ferrari experts thought the sleek, red, two-seat Ferrari 250 GTO might bring as much as $2 million.

The sleek coupe was built in 1963 - one of only 36 ever produced. Only 32 survive. This car was last purchased in 1982 for $345,000, but another of the 250 GTOs was auctioned in Monaco on May 26 for $1.57 million.

The government sent out bidding forms to 75 people who inquired from the United States, Australia, England, Japan, Monte Carlo and elsewhere.

They opened the 16 bids behind closed doors on Monday in U.S. Marshal Pasquale Mangini’s New Haven, Conn., office.

Mangini said several bids topped $1.5 million, but none complied with all four requirements: minimum price, bid submitted on the marshals’ form, postmarked no later than Oct. 22 and accompanied by a certified check for 10 percent of the bid.

Mangini declined to say what the highest bid was, but sources who declined to be identified said they believed that it was $2.3 million.

Some of the wealthy foreigners who had told Mangini and private agents in this country that they would bid have not done so, Mangini said in a telephone interview.

″I’m sure the financial picture in the last week is having an effect, ″ Mangini said . ″The stock market crash came right in the middle of our bidding process. If you’ve got your money tied up in the market, I guess you’ve got a problem.″

The car, which was raced at Le Mans and on other road courses in Europe in 1963 and 1964, was seized after the accused drug dealer was found murdered in Spain last June. A federal judge allowed the marshals to sell it under provisions of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which allows the government to confiscate the assets of drug dealers.

Last Monday, three days before the bids were due, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged a record 508 points on the New York Stock Exchange, culminating several days of large losses on financial exchanges around the world.

On Sept. 30, when the marshals announced their sealed bid auction, Michael Sheehan, owner of European Auto Restoration and Sales in Costa Mesa, Calif., who deals extensively in Ferraris and other rare autos, said such cars have become investments as well as collectors’ items and have risen sharply in value in recent years.

″If the marshals think the Dow Jones Industrial average is going to 3,200 in six months, they should hold off their auction,″ Sheehan said then. ″If they think it’s going back to 1,800, they better sell it today.″ The Dow closed Monday at 1,793.93.

Mangini said he is confident the government will obtain more than $1.5 million for the car.

He said the marshals might hire an agent or consultant, they might accept one of the nine marketing plans submitted instead of bids, they might market the car themselves or they might ″recontact those who made an error in their submission and ask them to resubmit their bid.″

″We’re going to take our time and be sure we get the maximum return for the government,″ Mangini said.

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