A lawsuit alleging that comedian and car collector Jerry Seinfeld sold an “inauthentic” Porsche 356 Speedster Carrera at a Gooding & Company auction in Amelia Island, Florida, in 2016 was branded as “frivolous” and lacking substance by a Seinfeld attorney.
Attorneys for the plaintiff, a company called Fica Frio Limited, claims in the February 1 federal court filing that their client paid $1.54 million — including buyer’s fees — for the 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster, but later found that the car was not the rare model as presented at the auction.
The suit was filed, the plaintiff said, after Seinfeld allegedly failed to act on a promise to return the company’s money, along with other unspecified costs, in exchange for return of the vehicle. Fica Frio is a private company based in the Channel Islands.
In the court filing, Fica Frio argues that when a Porsche expert examined the Speedster in preparation for reselling it, he found that the car lacked documentation or restoration photographs to support its authenticity. The suit does not include any specifics or proof that the car is not authentic.
When contacted by email, Fica Frio attorney David Molton would not provide additional information, writing back to the ClassicCars.com Journal that all inquiries should be referred to the court filings. As of Monday, two exhibits had been filed: the Gooding & Company vehicle summary and Amelia Island Auction Catalog terms, neither of which cast doubt on the Porsche’s authenticity.
Seinfeld attorney Orin Snyder said in a statement that Seinfeld called on Fica Frio to bring forth substantiating evidence regarding the car, which it failed to do, “and instead filed this frivolous lawsuit.”
“We are confident the court will support the need for an outside evaluator to examine the provenance of the car,” Snyder stated.
Gooding & Company did not immediately reply to emailed requests for comment.
Numerous questions in the case remained unanswered Monday about whether the Speedster is an actual GS/GT Carrera, worth multiple times the value of a standard Speedster, or whether the car was knowingly misrepresented at the 2016 auction.
According to the auction listing, the Porsche is “believed to be the sole example originally finished in Auratium Green” and is “equipped with extremely rare Type 692/0 four-cam engine.”
The listing also said it is one of 56 GS/GT Carrera Speedsters built with alloy body panels.
After Fica Frio purchased the vehicle, it was shipped to the UK and stored at Maxted-Page Limited – “one of the world’s foremost historic Porsche dealers,” according to the lawsuit. The car sat until 2017, when Porsche expert Lee Maxted-Page inspected it for a possible sale. The lawsuit said he raised issue about the car’s limited history file, especially the absence of photographs of the restoration process. Citing those concerns, he refused to sell the vehicle.
Fica Frio worked with Gooding and Seinfeld to unwind the sale. According to the lawsuit, Seinfeld called a company associate in June 2018 to apologize about the situation.
“I assure you that you will be completely indemnified in full and not have to keep the car and get all your money back,” Seinfeld was quoted in the lawsuit. “I did want to apologize to you personally for that happening.”
The lawsuit also quoted Seinfeld as saying he “would also love to know how your guys figured it out because I find that to be interesting cause that’s impressive my guys did not, I guess, see anything amiss with the car when I bought it.”
However, the lawsuit claims, Seinfeld did not have good reason to believe the vehicle was authentic.
Court documents showed the vehicle’s history file contained a note written by the person who likely sold the vehicle to Seinfeld that read, “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.”
ClassicCars.com editor Andy Reid said that when Fica Frio purchased the Speedster at the Gooding auction, it likely signed an as-is agreement, and that the car came with an old-style Porsche factory Kardex that described what parts, engine and chassis numbers belong to that specific vehicle.
Reid also noted that it was incumbent on Fica Frio to have had the car examined by Porsche experts before the sale to determine its authenticity, not after they had it in their possession.