A “Porsche” with a controversial history was expected to fetch upwards of $20 million on Saturday at RM Sotheby’s Monterey car auction but ended up not selling at all.
The 1939 Type 64 is considered by some to be the “world’s first Porsche.” However, the automaker says that the car with Nazi ties predates the company, and a representative for the carmaker’s museum told Business Insider that there “could be better actions than putting this onto an auction.”
A video showed the auction starting with scattered cheers and car enthusiasts getting their phone cameras ready to snap a photo as the car was being rolled out.
The auctioneer started the bidding at $13 million, but the large screen displaying the bids showed a starting bid of $30 million instead.
As bidding continued, the number on the screen made its way up to $40 million and $50 million, all while the auctioneer was actually saying $14 million and $15 million.
The crowd reacted with a mix of cheers and laughs as the “-ty instead of -teen” mistake continued.
As the bidding hit $17 million, the auctioneer realized the mistake.
“It says 70, guys — it’s 17,” the auctioneer said, adding: “It might be my pronunciation. We’re at $17 million. The bid is at 17.”
The excitement faltered as the auction blunders were unveiled.
The number on the screen dropped drastically to $17 million from $70 million, accompanied by a slew of boos and shouting. Attendees also walked out of the room, Bloomberg reported.
“As bidding opened on the Type 64, increments were mistakenly displayed on the screen, causing unfortunate confusion in the room,” an RM Sotheby’s representative told Business Insider in an emailed statement. “We take pride in conducting our world-class auctions with integrity and we take our responsibility to our clients very seriously. This was in no way intentional on behalf of anyone at RM Sotheby’s, rather an unfortunate misunderstanding amplified by excitement in the room.”
A $70 million sale of the Type 64 would have broken the record for the most expensive car ever auctioned, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at $48.4 million last year. But that was never the real bid for the car.
“That is the biggest mistake in modern history,” a person at the auction can be overheard saying in the video. “We saw it right here. We actually saw this.”
The Type 64 auction ended a few minutes later, after people ceased bidding on the car, which was still below its reserve price.
“The car did reach a high bid of $17 million but did not meet reserve,” RM Sotheby’s statement said. “We will continue making every effort to sell the car.”