While we often hear of classic cars referred to as rolling artworks, it took an Italian court to declare that the 1962-64 Ferrari 250 GTO is not just a beautiful race car with an illustrious history, but an actual work of art.
As such, the GTO receives protection from reproduction and imitation, putting it in league with great paintings and statues as artwork that shall not be duplicated under penalty of the law.
According to a report in The Daily Telegraph of England, the judgment came down from an Italian commercial tribunale in Bologna, ruling on a complaint from Ferrari that a Modena company was poised to produce replicas of the iconic endurance racer.
The ruling, which could be subject to appeal, apparently would bar the company from building or marketing the ersatz 250 GTOs.
“It’s the first time in Italy that a car has been recognized as a work of art,” a Ferrari spokesperson told The Telegraph. “It’s not just its beauty that makes it special – it also has a long racing history.”
The Ferrari 250 GTO is considered to be one of the greatest competition cars ever built, as well as reigning as the most-valuable automobile in the world. One of them sold for $48 million at last year’s RM Sotheby’s collector car auction in Monterey, California, by far a record sale. Yet another example is reported to have sold a few years ago for a stunning $70 million in a private transaction.
Just 36 of the V12-powered race cars were built, conquering the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other grueling long-distance races. But more than that, the evocative styling is revered for its timeless beauty, setting the GTO apart as something special indeed.
The tribunal ruled that the “artistic merits” of the Ferrari 250 GTO “have made the 250 GTO unique, a true automobile icon.” Only Ferrari could legally produce or promote the race cars, the court said.
While there have been many examples of faked 250 GTOs over the years, usually replica bodies over the chassis of lesser models, this is the first time that a legal ruling has been issued to protect the real cars as true artworks.
Only time will tell whether the designation of the Ferrari as actual art will boost the values to the astronomical level of paintings by Rembrandt, Cezanne or Jean-Michel Basquiat – a large painting by the late graffiti-based artist sold in 2017 for $110.5 million.