If you follow the comings and goings of billionaires, you might be familiar with the story of Les Wexner and his $16.5 million Ferrari. To sum up, he dropped that crazy (not to mention record-breaking) sum on a 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus, only to find out that the car was at the center of a messy and tangled legal battle over who its actual owner is. He also dropped at least another $12 million on legal fees after being denied a refund on the vehicle that he thought he was purchasing free and clear. He sued Bonhams, the auction house that sold him the car, claiming they deceived him about the nature of the legal proceedings, while Bonhams disputed the claim that they had done anything to mislead him. Now, after 18 months and untold millions in legal fees on all sides, the case has been settled with a particularly agreeable outcome for Wexner: He finally gets the car that he bought.
Bonhams and Wexner's attorneys released a joint statement to the public regarding the settlement, and you can almost sense the relief of all parties involved. Here's an excerpt courtesy of the Daily Mail:
"Copley Motorcars and Bonhams announce the settlement of their ongoing litigation concerning the auction of a 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus by Bonhams at its Goodwood sale in 2014. The resolution of the litigation, including the transfer of valid Ohio title and Bonhams' contribution to Copley's costs, finally enables the completion of the sale of the car with the disputes to title now definitively resolved."
This decisive conclusion to the saga of who really owns the "Fearsome Four-Nine" is only the latest chapter of a pretty exciting life for the car. It was stolen back in the 1980s from a Karl Kleve, before eventually ending up in the collection of former racecar driver Jacques Swaters, who is said to have had no idea it was stolen. Once Kleve approached him (and after Swaters spent a lot of time and money restoring the car), an agreement was reached that had Kleve accepting a $625,000 payout in order to relinquish ownership to Swaters. It was this agreement that grew into the 18-month disagreement after both parties died and the car's ownership became nebulous.
But that's all over now, and Les Wexner can now go about the important business of enjoying his $16.5 million purchase. Perhaps since he's had to go through all this mess in order to do it, he'll enjoy the car even more than he otherwise would have.