The car was being shipped from Quebec, Canada, to a car collector in Florida in December 2019 when US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry in Buffalo, New York, noticed something strange, according to court documents.
During their inspection, they saw that the rivets holding the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) plate were covered with a black, tar-like substance that was not consistent with factory standards.
The CPB placed a hold on the car to investigate and contacted Ferrari and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
They learned that the car had been stolen in March 2003 from a parking garage at the Hotel Dontello in Imola, Italy, and never recovered.
According to the documents, Paolo Provenzi, who lives in Italy, was able to prove that he and his father and brother bought the Ferrari about a month before it was stolen for about $309,500 (€260,000). The loss was not covered by insurance.
It’s unclear how the Ferrari got from Italy to Canada, where Mohammed Alsaloussi of Florida bought it in September 2019 for $1.435 million. Alsaloussi said he had no idea that the car had been reported stolen, according to the filing.
Now, both men want the car back.
“When this is over, there’s going to be a movie made about this,” Piras told The Buffalo News. “This car has been going around the world, apparently. It was in Japan for a while.”
CNN tried to reach Piras on Friday, but her office said she was not immediately available.
Alsaloussi had registered the car to Ikonick Collections Ltd., a holding company for his collection of rare automobiles, according to the court documents.
“Our client holds government-issued title and registration to the vehicle, and paid fair market value to a reputable seller,” said Alsaloussi’s attorney, Richard O’Neill, in a statement.
“Only recently have we discovered the existence of the other claimant. We have many questions about the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged 2003 sale and theft. If the other claimant makes an appearance in this case, we intend to make a very thorough inquiry into the facts and circumstances surrounding his claim. We have been eagerly awaiting the filing of this action and look forward to resolving this matter.”
In the government’s filing, the US Attorney’s Office said it had “great doubt” about which claimant should get the car.
“After investigation, my Office determined that it would not be appropriate for us to exercise our authority and forfeit this extremely valuable and previously stolen luxury car,” said US Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. in a statement.
“Instead, after an 18-year odyssey, which we know took it across continents and countries, we have decided that the time has come for a court of law to determine the rightful owner of the vehicle.”
Until the case is settled, the car is being held by CBP in Buffalo.