A red 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.
A red 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.
Image: Getty Images / John Stillwell

$48.4-million (R690-million) – that’s the world-record setting price fetched at auction last weekend for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in Monterey, California. The previous world record for a car sold at public auction was $38.1-million (R54.3-million) set earlier this year for the sale of a 1963 250 GTO. The record-breaking car is the third example of only 36 made by the Italian car manufacturer between 1953 and 1964 and, of the four most expensive cars ever sold at auction, three of them have been Ferrari 250 GTOs.

This one belonged to Greg Witten, a former Microsoft executive and now chairman of Numerix Software. According to auctioneers RM Sotheby’s, who handled the sale, another of the cars was sold in a private transaction for $70-million (over R1-billion) earlier this year.

Famous previous owners of Witten’s Ferrari include Phil Hill, the first American F1 World Driver’s Champion, who drove it as a practice car ahead of the Targa Florio endurance race in 1962, and jewellery empire heir Gianni Bulgari. According to RM Sotheby’s, the car won over 20 races and never crashed. In fact, it’s believed all 36 of the original models are still in existence in the hands of super-rich collectors and owners.

Witten bought the car in 2000 for an undisclosed amount but told CNBC he paid less than a tenth of its current value, so he’s smiling all the way to the bank on his return - and he has 12 other classic Ferraris in his garage. He said his reason for selling was he likes to race but it’s become harder and harder to race against newer, more powerful models.

Asked which was the better investment in terms of appreciation, Microsoft shares or his GTO, Witten replied: “Definitely the GTO.”

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