Technically speaking, lot 20 in British auctioneer Bonham’s Bonmont Sale of motor vehicles was an off-white, used car.
But its asking price—$5.2 million—tells another story.
The 2014 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster that sold today at a Swiss golf club to an undisclosed buyer is literally one of a kind. Only nine of the models were made, to begin with. Then there’s the fact that this particular model, with its beige leather seats and monogrammed doors, comes with an appropriately jaw-dropping backstory.
The Roadster was in a fleet of 11 extraordinary cars confiscated by Swiss authorities in early 2016 from Teodorin Obiang Nguema, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian leader, Africa’s longest serving president. Among the selection were Bentleys, Ferraris, and a McLaren. The cars appear to have been barely driven.
Obiang Nguema, who is believed to have a net worth of around $600 million, also suffered the devastating setback of losing his 76-meter (250 ft) luxury yacht to Swiss authorities.
In 2017, he was sentenced to three years’ jail time by a French court, after he was convicted of siphoning off public money to buy artwork, automobiles, and other trappings of an international playboy. (Three hundred bottles of Château Pétrus wine, bought for €2.1 million, or $2.3 million, were just the beginning.) The case has since been appealed. As part of a deal with prosecutors, $23 million from the sale will be sent to social causes in Equatorial Guinea.
In the auctioneers’ notes, the Roadster was described as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” complete with “owner’s handbook, car cover, all books and tools, and Equatorial Guinea registration papers and technical inspection.” Given its final sale price of $8.3 million, the chance to look like an international super-villain apparently doesn’t come cheap.