French court orders €52 mil payout in ‘Mona Lisa’ Ferrari trial

Only 39 Ferrari GTOs were built from 1962 to 1964. (Twitter pic/SmokinJoeMMA)

LIMOGES: A French appeals court has ordered the son of a renowned Ferrari collector to pay his siblings millions of euros over the disputed sale of a coveted racer considered the storied Italian automaker’s “Mona Lisa”.

Patrick Bardinon was sued for breach of trust after auctioning off the rare 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO to a Taiwanese buyer in 2014 for €38 million – a record at the time.

He says it was a gift from his father Pierre Bardinon, a descendant of the family behind luxury fur and leather house Chapal, after Patrick was assumed to have been killed in a horrendous racing accident.

“My father thought I had died that day,” he said last March when the lawsuit first came to court.

But Anne and Jean-François Bardinon claim their brother secretly removed the car from their father’s collection and unlawfully sold the crown jewel of their shared inheritance.

The pair lost their initial challenge, but the appeals court in Limoges ruled Wednesday in the siblings’ favour, Anne Bardinon’s lawyer said Friday.

It ordered Patrick to return the sale proceeds plus interest as well as the auction commission – a total of €52.3 million – to the common inheritance fund.

“Anne Bardinon welcomes a decision that conforms with the truth, the law and the fairness that her father always sought to maintain with regard to his three children,” her lawyer Julien Dami Le Coz said.

Pierre Bardinon, who died in 2012, had amassed an unrivalled collection of more than 60 Ferraris at his Mas du Clos estate, which had its own race track, in central France.

Most of the cars were bought in rough shape, cheaply, and were painstakingly restored – the 1964 GTO was purchased in 1978 for just US$700, or about US$2,800 in today’s money. Pierre spent another US$1,500 fixing it up.

Only 39 GTOs were built from 1962 to 1964, and they have since become some of the most fabled Ferraris in the world, deemed the “hottest car of all time” by the magazine Popular Mechanics in 2017.

“A stunning shape and incredible 3.0-litre V-12 makes this the definitive exotic. And it couldn’t be more gorgeous,” the magazine gushed.