So picture that you just snagged up a car for, let’s say $3,800, and it is a great car that you completely fall in love with. A year later, you find out that the car was illegally seized according to a court ruling and you have to hand the car over to the heirs of its original owner. You’d be pretty upset, right? Well, add three zeros to that price and you that exact situation unfolding in Germany.
A Dutch car collector purchased a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster from RM Auctions last year for a whopping $3.8 million in California. When the collector shipped the car back to Germany, the German government seized the car stating that it was illegally taken by an American military official around 1945 and shipped to the U.S., as the heirs of the pricy automobile are claiming that the American serviceman stole the vehicle and hid it in the U.S.
Typically, Germany has a 30-year statute of limitation on this sort of case, but a German court stated that since the car was not in Germany for 30 years, the limitation clock never started, which is an odd interpretation of statute of limitations laws. The strangest thing is that between 1945 and 1970, no one has any idea where the car was and what was being done with it, so there is technically no proof that the car was not in Germany, and we find the ruling a little off the wall.
We certainly hope that the buyer can recoup at least a majority of the $3.8 million he used to purchase the car from the seller. Also, there has to be some U.S. law on the books that puts RM Auctions on the hook for selling a car with a shady and undocumented past that just may cost the collector millions of dollars.
One thing’s for sure, if this car wasn’t worth $3.7 million, we are willing to bet that the heirs couldn’t have cared less about getting back the property… We’ll keep you updated as this story progresses.