Editor’s Note: This post was originally published February 4. It has been updated to include news about an additional suit brought by Seinfeld.
Noted car enthusiast Jerry Seinfeld is being sued over an allegedly fake Porsche 356. Seinfeld’s 1958 Porsche 356A 1500 GS/GT Carerra Speedster sold for $1.54 million at auction in 2016. The company that bought it, Fica Frio Limited, filed suit against him claiming the car is not authentic. It makes for a great entertainment headline. Here’s some actual background.
If legitimate, this is the purest of purist’s Porsche 356s, authentically restored. The 356 was the first factory production Porsche. The rough idea was to make a Beetle lighter and more powerful. The 356A was a more refined version that debuted in 1956. The Speedster, available from 1954 to 1958, is a pared down, open top, racier version coveted by collectors. The Carrera includes the four-cam engine Porsche used for racing.
There were 151 Carerra Speedsters built. Of those, 56 had the GS/GT trim with lightweight aluminum panels. This is also the only Carrera Speedster from the factory in Auratium Green. That rarity is why this one sold for $1.54 million while Seinfeld’s 1957 356 A Speedster ($687,000) and the 1963 B 2000 GS Carerra 2 ($825,000) sold for less. That $1.54 million was below the pre-auction estimate of $2-$2.5 million.
Keep that emphasis on “if legitimate.” This car was bought from the Porsche factory. Following that, the provenance is basically non-existent. It ended up in the U.S. somehow at some point. A California company called European Collectibles purchased the car unrestored from a broker representing an anonymous seller. Here is a description of that transaction from the car’s history file.
“Unfortunately we do not have a lot of information on the 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 Carrera GT Speedster VIN 84908. We purchased the car from a broker who would not take me to the cars [sic] original location to meet the family that owned it originally. I tried very hard to find out more but never could.”
When trying to authenticate the car for resale, the near absent historical record and the “lack of photographical [sic] evidence” of the restoration drew scrutiny from Fica Frio’s Porsche expert. Per the lawsuit, “subsequent inspection and investigation revealed that the vehicle is not authentic.” They did not expound on that assessment.
The lawsuit also claims Seinfeld offered to rescind the sale and refund the money in a voicemail before coming to reason and requesting an independent assessment of the authenticity claim. Hence the lawsuit.
Update (February 26): Jerry Seinfeld is now suing the company that sold him the allegedly fraudulent 1958 Porsche 356. Seinfeld bought the car for $1.2 million from a California company called European Collectibles in February 2013 and claims he relied on the company’s certificate of authenticity.
Seinfeld wanted European Collectibles to resolve his dispute with Fica Frio. The lawsuit says the company refused to do so. Seinfeld’s lawyer released a statement.
“Jerry has no liability in this matter, but he wants to do the right thing, and is, therefore, bringing this action to hold European Collectibles accountable for its own certification of authenticity, and to allow the court to determine the just outcome.”