The 1996 Ferrari F50 is one of the most incredible street-legal cars that's ever been produced. The car was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Italian automaker. The F50 was intended to be the closest possible equivalent to a street-legal Formula One race car.
Famously, only 349 F50s were produced. Why 349? Because a production line is considered rare if 350 cars are produced, so Ferrari chose to produce one fewer than "rare" status.
And one of those extremely rare cars is now at the center of a complex investigation announced by the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York. The goal of the investigation is to determine who exactly is its rightful owner: An Italian man who hasn't seen the car for 16 years? Or a Miami-based entrepreneur who claims to be the rightful owner of this gorgeous piece of art that's been gathering dust for two years at a government impound lot up in Buffalo:
That car has been sitting in the impound lot since December 2019. It was impounded while on the back of a transport truck traveling across a bridge connecting Canada to Buffalo, New York. A US Customs officer found the transportation to be suspicious, pulled the truck over and commenced a background check. The officer quickly found that this car has a not-so-clean history.
There are two parties who say they have claims to ownership of the vehicle:
Mohammed Alsaloussi – a Miami man who says he bought the car free and clear in September of that same year for $1.435 million,
Paolo Provenzi – an Italian man who bought the car way back in 2003 for $310,000.
Based on recent comparable F50 sales, the car is worth around $2 million today.
As the story goes, Provenzi purchased the car along with his father and brother in February of 2003. One month later, Paolo drove the car to a hotel bar in the town of Imola. He parked the car in the hotel's parking structure. It was not there when he emerged several hours later. No one saw the car for the next 16 years, until December 2019 when it was spotted by the Customs officer in Buffalo.
Paolo filed an insurance claim back in 2003 but was rejected, leaving him out $310,000.
Fast forward to December 2019 when Blue Line Trucking was transporting the Ferrari into the United States. The car was listed as an "unaccompanied personal good" belonging to Mohammed Alsaloussi.
For his part, Mohammed Alsaloussi claims he purchased the car from a Canadian company called Ikonick Collection Ltd. Ikonick issued a statement via an attorney representing both parties stating that they have "a very strong claim of ownership of the vehicle."
That was two years ago.
In a statement about the investigation, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy explained why authorities decided to confiscate the car rather than let it pass through customs:
"After investigation, my Office determined that it would not be appropriate for us to exercise our authority and forfeit this extremely valuable and previously stolen luxury car…Instead, after an 18-year odyssey, which we know took it across continents and countries, we have decided that the time has come for a court of law to determine the rightful owner of the vehicle."
One of the goals of that investigation will be to determine exactly how the car made its way from Italy to Canada, and what its status has been for the last two decades, along with a firm decision of who exactly it belongs to now.
So far no one has any idea where the car was or what is was doing for the 16 years between 2003 and 2019. Was it driven? Was it being hidden in a barn? Seems like it would be fairly difficult to hide that car, no? Also, Ferrari is notoriously compulsive about tracking its F50s. What did Ferrari know? Had they written it off as gone forever? How did it get across the ocean to the US?
We'll keep an eye on this story for you and update as news comes in!