What’s going on? The credibility of the whole classic car universe is at stake. Kenny Hayne, don’t go home! Get Rowena and rev up the machine again. Now I know we need you both for the Bill Shorten Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Car Industry in May but we have an immediate crisis.
Not only is classic Porker collector and former TV personality Jerry Seinfeld being sued for selling a fake but classic car, dealer and former fang carpenter Derek Hood and his wife Sarah of JD Classics are being sued for $120 mill amid allegations he fibbed about the value of some classic cars and that a replica Ford GT40 Mk1 was the real deal.
Of course, we’ve seen that in Australia. Last September The Australian exclusively revealed there are serious questions about the provenance of the said to be Peter Brock-raced 1989 Mobil 1 Racing Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 that was being auctioned online by Gold Coast-based Lloyds Auctions. Brock’s co-driver in the Sierra, Andrew Miedecke, said: “I know for absolute sure it was not a Brock race car. It is concerning that the auction and promotional material [led people to infer] the car is a Brock Mobil race car.”
There is a big “replica” market in legendary V8s, particularly anything remotely connected to Peter Brock. Basically, this means big money is being paid for fakes.
Anyway, in a document filmed by the quaintly named Fica Frio Limited (means “keep cool” in Portuguese), which has its global HQ in Jersey, FF’s lawyers say: “In March 11, 2016, at an auction held by Gooding & Company at which Mr Seinfeld and Fica Frio’s representatives attended in-person in Amelia Island, Florida, Fica Frio purchased a purported 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster from Mr Seinfeld for $US1.54 million. However, the vehicle is not authentic and not the automobile Mr Seinfeld represented.”
Now many of you haven’t been to 26 New Street, St Helier, Jersey, even though it does star in the Panama Papers and, in his wonderful book Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, financial journalist Nick Shaxson describes Jersey as a place where “leadership has essentially been captured by global finance, and whose members will threaten and intimidate anyone who dissents”. Of course, in the manner of all tax havens, the lads and lassies of Fica Frio don’t actually soak up any oxygen at the building that in fact is HQ central of the Bedell Cristin law firm.
Attending the auction to buy the Porker were Fica Frio reps James Haithwaite and Carlos Monteverde, described in the document as an individual connected to Fica Frio. Jimmy is a London-based specialist in alternative assets, particularly classic cars. We can exclusively reveal Carlos is Fica Frio and, more importantly, is the son of billionaire Brazilian philanthropist Lily Safra. Lily’s late husband Edmond died in a mysterious fire in his Monaco penthouse. Carlos is a serious collector and paid even more serious money, I think about 50 big ones, for a Ferrari 250 GT.
Evidently Carlos intended to flick the Porker because he shipped it to leading old Porker dealer Lee Maxted-Page in the old country to sell it. Lee said: “Not on your Nelly, Carlos, this is a fraudster Porkster.” Long story short, Carlos went back through Gooding, Gooding rang Jerry, Jerry said: “Sorry, send it back for a full refund.” But according to stay cool’s lawyers, it didn’t happen.
Moving right along, Derek Hood started off life as a mild-mannered dentist who, in between root canals, liked restoring old cars. In 1987 he sold a restored Jag and then spent the next 30 years “restoring, racing and selling classic cars”, building a $200 mill fortune and a staff of 60 who renovated old Fezzers, Masers, Jags, Astons and other fantasy favourites.
Things got a bit tense when he sold his company to private equity firm Charme Capital, who say they had to write off much of the value of JD Classics because — and how can I can put this politely? — because they’d been legged-over on the value and ownership of the collection. Then in March, Guildford prosthetics entrepreneur Mike Tuke, who had spent $80 mill on cars from the Dexter, sued him for $20 mill. His barrister, Sean Brannigan QC, said in court that Mike was determined to prove Hoody is a “serial fraudster”. The judge in the case accused the Dexter of “deliberate and dishonest conduct”. Look, you know what judges are like (no offence, Kenny), but when the receivers were called into Sarah and Derek’s business, they claimed he marked up the price of a string of vintage Jaguars to “create the false appearance of a vibrant market” and to inflate their value for potential buyers.
In fact, The Times reported a Jaguar XKD D-Type was allegedly bought and sold eight times, enabling the company to record sales of more than $50m and profits of $16m (or more than I make a week). The car was worth only $1.2m, according to advice to the administrators by Sotheby’s.
WART’s expert on classic car values, Hagerty’s Dave Kinney, says of the Seinfeld Porker: “Old cars with a history grow a history based on a fact that is a cornerstone (in this case, Porsche factory records). But Porsche’s records are not always perfect. There can be three different versions of the certificate of origin of the same car.”