Celebrity provenance is a wildcard variable in determining the price of any item at auction and Auction America's Fort Lauderdale auction in South Florida this past weekend (March 31 – April 2), saw three different contenders with varying celebrity provenance go under the auctioneer's hammer. President Donald Trump's Ferrari F430 F1 won the day, narrowly beating out a 1955 Porsche 356 1600 Speedster once owned by actor Nicolas Cage, with a 1958 Porsche RSK "Tribute" driven by Bruce Willis in the 1992 movie Death Becomes Her a distant third.
It was a close run race, with Trump's Ferrari initially being passed in at $240,000, just short of the reserve price. But the car was sold within 15 minutes of leaving the auction stage, with the high bidder negotiating a final price of $270,000, just $14,750 more than Nicolas Cage's Porsche 356 Speedster fetched.
Cars and motorcycles owned by famous people regularly fetch multiples of their going price, with names like Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Steve McQueen and various Popes offering high multiples due to their celebrity gravitas.
Juan Manuel Fangio (arguably the greatest driver of all time) offers the highest multiple in this area, but the few Fangio cars that have reached auction are complex beasts to analyze. For example, the Ferrari 335S Spider Scaglietti (US$35.7 million in February 2016) and Mercedes-Benz W196 Silver Arrow (sold for $29.6 million in July, 2013 and pictured winning the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix above) are often referred to as "Mona Lisa cars" a term referencing their extreme rarity, exquisite beauty and fabled race history. Accordingly, it's difficult to determine the importance of each variable in the equation, with Fangio's celebrity being just one trump card in a full house of stellar attributes.
Hence although the Trump Ferrari (pictured above proudly displayed alongside the Presidential seal) fetched roughly double the going rate for an otherwise identical car, I'd still regard it as a steal because collectible cars once owned by the President of the United States are extremely rare.
Trump's place in history is still a work in progress, but this car will almost certainly appreciate in value for the short, medium and long-term future.
The top ten lots sold at the auction are listed above, with Trump's F430 F1 Coupe in fifth place, just above the ex-Cage 1955 Porsche 356 1600 Speedster (pictured below).
This car was formerly a part of the extensive private car collection of Academy Award winning actor Nicolas Cage, and it's not the first time that cars formerly owned by Cage have surprised on the auction block.
The 2000 movie Gone in 60 Seconds, with Cage in the lead male role and Angelina Jolie in the female lead, was a remake of a classic that in turn was one of the first movies to focus on a car. A 1967 Shelby Mustang GT50 driven by Cage in the 2000 remake sold for $1,000,000 at a Mecum auction in May 2013.
Cage also once owned an original first edition Action Comic (produced in 1938, Action Comics #1 was the first appearance of Superman) and Cage's copy of the first Superman comic set a world record auction price for a comic of $2.161 million. Cage was once a very serious comic aficionado, selling some of his collection for $1.6 million in 2001, and naming his son Kal-El Coppola Cage in 2005.
Kal-el, for those unacquainted with the Superman legend, was Superman's birth name on the planet Krypton before his subsequent career as the "man of steel". The first Action Comics edition that featured Superman on the cover (above left), catalyzed the entire superhero genre.
The 1958 Porsche RSK Tribute (pictured above) driven by Bruce Willis in the movie Death Becomes Her was not a real Porsche but a replica, and although it starred in a feature film, it sold for just $19,800, which represents excellent value for a car having appeared on the silver screen. As we've documented previously, cars that have appeared in movies (even replica cars such as the faux Ferrari in Ferris Bueller's Day Off) often attract very high prices. We've covered this trend extensively in the feature articles "The Love Bug" sells for $126,500 + 25 other cars you'll wish you had bought and The 50 most expensive movie & TV cars and motorcycles.
Trumps' 430 horsepower Ferrari
The Ferrari F430 was first shown at the 2004 Paris Motor Show and contained a lot of Ferrari's F1 technology. This one, sold in Fort Lauderdale, was purchased new by President Donald Trump in 2007.
Trump used the car as his personal vehicle for four years and accrued 2,400 miles behind the wheel of the 4.3-liter, 490-hp V-8, showing he is not just the only POTUS ever to own a supercar, but he obviously enjoyed driving it too. The new owner received a copy of the original vehicle title bearing Trump's New York City Trump Tower address and distinctive signature.
Whatever your political bent might be, my guess is that Donald Trump memorabilia is certain to become hot stuff at auction over time, if this sale hasn't already proven that to be the case. Indeed, maybe that's something for the ever-opportunistic media celebrity to focus on after he's finished in the top job. A nodding Trump doll for the parcel shelf might appeal to those who can't afford a Ferrari.