Hagerty.com

Lawsuit alleging Jerry Seinfeld sold a fake Porsche for $1.5M is light on facts, says expert


#1

Jerry Seinfeld is one of the world’s highest-profile car collectors, widely known for his vast fleet of vintage and modern Porsches. Naturally, it made big headlines in 2016 when he consigned a good chunk of his collection to a Gooding & Company auction at Amelia Island. Now, the buyer of Seinfeld’s 1958 Porsche 356 Speedster from that sale—Fica Frio Limited—has filed a lawsuit claiming Seinfeld negligently misrepresented the car’s authenticity. In addition to a full refund of the $1.54M sale price, the plaintiff is requesting further, as yet unspecified, damages.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/04/jerry-seinfeld-fake-porsche-lawsuit

#2

I feel like Jerry is trying to do the right thing and this buyer is slapping on a lawsuit for the limelight. Jerry bought the car from a broker as well!
with the same documentation even. The 356 is a race car, many are not matching numbers and many have been re-bodied. Not uncommon and its the “nature of the beast” for a race car.


#3

As an example… If the argument has to do with what was stated re the rarity of the paint color, then frivolous. If something was done to the paint color to make the car rarer, then this could be an issue, however easily settled.
We will know more when we have an understanding of what the plaintiff defines as ‘damages’. If damages for ‘loss of work’ or ‘emotional distress’, then we’ll know what the plaintiff is after.


#4

The purchasing entity bought this vehicle for resale. My suspicions are they discovered they paid too much to earn a profit and now are attempting to unwind the deal through litigation where they will attempt to get the profit they believed would come their way. One thing to remember about auctions…the winner just paid more than anyone else was willing to pay. refusing Jerry’s full reimbursement offer adds fuel to that scenario. They better have something very serious which was overlooked by some of the best in the field if they expect to prevail.


#5

It may well be that the purchaser’s lawyer is just trying to preserve the “Limitation Period” for starting an action. Where I practice, that is two years from the date you knew, or should have known, you had an action. It may well be, that they are unsure of what to do about moving the litigation forward, but want that deadline protected.


#6

@chris5 - Interesting legal perspective. I often wonder if the funny sounding language for many automotive complaints/cases is based on precedent set outside of the automotive realm.


#7

It would be nice to see Fica Frio Limited not only lose this case but get counter-sued for this frivilous lawsuit. Jerry agrees to buy the car back and that is not enough for them! I hope their reputation gets destroyed to the point that no one wants to deal with them in the future. They deserve to have their business ended as a result of this low life move!


#8

This is why I like beaters, non-originals, gritty rusto-mods, street machines that are rough around the edges, and wacky oddball creations. If I were to buy what’s purported to be a numbers matching Yenko Camaro and it turned out to be a fake I’d be devastated.

Yes, that’s why I like beaters…
… or at least that’s what I tell myself given my budget constraints… Not my car but fun to look at in my opinion-


#9

I’m not a vintage Porsche, but I’ve been around the block a time or two with vintage vehicles of many marques since I started driving almost 50 years ago.

From the acknowledgedly limited photos shown of the car in question, the only thing I’d question is the body color-painted bands on the tops and bottoms of the front and rear bumpers.

I’ve never seen that before, but it’s plausible that this was a factory option on this limited-edition model.

And – a few aircraft-grade hoses on the engine, but these were period-correct (at least on airplanes) for the late 1950s.

Past that, I’d start looking at bolt heads and the washers underneath bolts and nuts for authenticity – this is an obvious “tell” and I cannot imagine any reputable restoration house or any high-end collector not demanding either 100% original or 100% matching hardware here, or in the case of a performance-focused resto, 100% provenance on the hardware that was replaced.

My choice is – ALWAYS replace everything with ARP hardware instead of refreshing cruddy 60-year-old junk. And replace hoses with newer stuff, but keep the originals for concours matching and fitment.

To put things into perspective, my 1969 Spitfire got a negative score (AKA below zero) at concours, but on our “play” race pitch, when I hit the top of first gear, everybody ran for cover in all directions except mine. A 1300CC Spit at 9000 RPM invokes that instinctive reaction from everybody, same as a growling mountain lion makes bunnies hide in their burrows.

It also took 10 minutes for the tire smoke to dissipate, even though I was negotiating the course and not just doing a burnout.

Good thing I sold the car to somebody who shipped it to Europe. If the buyer can find me – I painted the block gold, not the factory :slight_smile:


#10

I was in a sale with my '56 Cabriolet with Jerry a number of years ago. No, “The Man” but his cadre of experts. There findings on my car were not in agreement with mine (I restored the car) No harm, no foul, we parted friends, as it should be. …… Jim


#11

Seems like Fica Frio LTD is the only reputation being ruined here. Seinfeld agreed to take the car back and return their money, which they refused. If the car is indeed a fake, they should have done their homework before bidding $1.54M for the thing. The sale of any used car is typically “as is” without warranty in the United States, whether it’s $1.54M or $1,540, you now own it. Besides, Seinfeld is probably not going to knowingly palm off a fake as the real deal. That’s for “vintage car brokers” in Italian suits. I think that this Fica Frio outfit is trying to take advantage of the American legal system. In the UK they’d have to pay the defendant’s legal expenses if they lost the case. Besides,if they can’t prove that either the car is indeed a fake and/or that Seinfeld knowingly misrepresented it, they’ve got no case.


#12

chris5, your analysis of the situation clearly shows why everyone distrusts and hates lawyers.


#13

There is no way that Jerry Seinfeld would “cheat” anyone on a car sale, his reputation is far more valuable than 1.5 million and he certainly doesn’t need the money.


#14

If i may, this case may be symptomatic of some individuals or groups having too much money? Purchasing a vehicle approaching 10x the value of my home is foreign to me and perhaps many other car enthusiasts here as well. Hate to say ‘buyer beware’, but this may be the problem with restorations in general and Porsche restorations in particular? I dunno. . .I am happy with my almost 60 year-old VW beetle and will be even more happy to pass it on to my two kids regardless of ‘value’.


#15

My assumption is what Fico wants is a discount off the price as he may feel its not 100% what was represented. And Sinefeld might prefer to just return the car and I’ll sell it to someone else who won’t jerk me around.


#16

What would Newman do ? Lol :joy:


#17

I think that the buyer realized the star power of the car would not translate to a profit.
Seinfeld sold a VW at that auction for about $100k. It went at the first Barrett Jackson Auction Northeast for about $20k. Speculation doesn’t always work.


#18

I owned and restored a 1959 Carrera GT Speedster, number 84927. In my lifetime as a collector, I owned three Carrera GT Speedsters at one time or another. There certainly are ways to positively identify cars of this type. First of all, as any Porsche aficionado knows, the factory has records of exactly which Speedsters were manufactured and sold as Carrera GTs and which ones of those were sold with aluminum doors, hood, and deck lid. (These were only a small subset of the already small set of Carrera GT Speedsters and were made only at the end of 1958 and in 1959.) The data correlate body number with engine number. So, the correctness of the engine can be verified by matching numbers, but in the event that an engine was lost or blown up along the way, a correct for year engine of the right type (692/0 or 692/1 are correct engine types for the alu-bodied late Carrera GTs) would not hurt the value too much. (After all, these were genuine race cars.) At various places on the body, and on the hood, doors, and deck lid, the serial number is stamped. Any expert knows where to look for those stampings. I suppose it is possible to go around a car and cut out the stampings in order to replace them with stampings that correlate with the run of Carrera GTs, but if that were to be done, then there would be a duplication. There would be two cars extant with the exact same number stampings. Since the cars are so rare, I doubt this could go unnoticed for long. Also, the stampings have a certain font that would be hard to reproduce, even if the number was stolen from a genuine car. Furthermore, as others point out, Jerry Seinfeld has no need to get involved in such chicanery and nothing to gain. Further, furthermore, he offered to undo the deal when he really didn’t have to do that. The lawsuit is a bunch of hogwash, in my opinion, probably fostered by a desire for profit, a form of blackmail.


#19

Nobody is accusing Jerry Seinfeld of anything nefarious.