Jerry Seinfeld has just been sued over claims that he sold a company a rare vintage Porsche Carrera sports car that allegedly turned out to be a counterfeit.
The lawsuit against Seinfeld alleges that when the comedian auctioned off the classic car for a winning bid of $1.54 million, he knew that it was "not authentic."
Seinfeld’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, has denied the claims and called the suit "frivolous."
An entity called Fica Frio Limited bought the vehicle in March of 2016 at an auction that took place in Amelia Island, Florida. Seinfeld himself was allegedly in attendance at the auction.
In a complaint filed in a Manhattan federal court, the car is identified as a 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster, which was sold at an auction that featured the "Jerry Seinfeld Collection"of cars.
The lawsuit quoted Spike Feresten, who was the host at the auction.
Feresten also happens to be a former writer-producer for the "Seinfeld" television show and, as host at the auction, used a punch line that referenced the iconic sitcom.
"Jerry has been generous enough to let me drive an awful lot of his collection," Feresten said. "And I can tell you: They’re real and they’re spectacular."
Seinfeld’s current hit Internet show, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," displays his passion for classic cars combined with his love of stand-up comedy.
The auction summary of the Porsche indicated that it was "From the Jerry Seinfeld Collection" and was a "stunning example of a rare thoroughbred Porsche."
The 1958 Porsche was marketed at the auction as "one of 56" with "lightweight aluminum panels," according to the suit.
"This exceptionally rare 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster is surely among the finest restored examples of a highly sought-after four-cam Porsche," the marketing material indicated.
Between 1955 and 1959, Porsche built 151 Carrera Speedsters, and less than 60 percent of the cars had the GS/GT trim that the plaintiff believed the car possessed.
According to the lawsuit, a year later in March of 2017, Fica Frio had the car evaluated by a Porsche expert who determined that it was "not authentic."
The suit quotes a voicemail that Seinfeld allegedly left for the buyer in June of 2018.
"[I want to] offer my apology for this nuisance and assure you that you will be completely indemnified in full and not have to keep the car and get all your money back," Seinfeld purportedly said. "I did want to apologize to you personally for that happening."
The comedian allegedly added that his experts never suspected there was anything wrong with the car, according to the suit.
Seinfeld also purportedly said that he "would also love to know how your guys figured it out because . . . my guys did not I guess see anything amiss with the car when I bought it."
Fica Frio claims that Seinfeld has not paid back the money, and the company desires to rescind the sale, giving the car back to Seinfeld, with the purchase price going back to the buyer. Perhaps even more important to settlement discussions, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages from Seinfeld, which in theory may be considerable.
According to Seinfeld’s attorney, "Jerry has been working in good faith to get to the bottom of this matter. He has asked Fica Frio for evidence to substantiate the allegations. Fica Frio ignored Jerry and instead filed this frivolous lawsuit."
The attorney added, "Jerry consigned the car to Gooding and Company, an auction house, which is responsible for the sale. Nevertheless, Jerry is willing to do what’s right and fair, and we are confident the court will support the need for an outside evaluator to examine the provenance of the car."
Determining the authenticity of vintage cars is not as cut and dried as it would appear. The vast majority of civil suits end in some sort of settlement between the parties.
In an interesting little twist, one classic episode of "Seinfeld" deals with a plot line that bears a resemblance with regard to the "authenticity" theme.
The George character on the TV show is about to purchase a 1989 Volvo sedan, but the car salesman talks him into buying a 1989 LeBaron convertible instead. The smooth talking salesman is able to get George to believe that the vehicle was previously owned by famed actor Jon Voight.
It turns out that the car was indeed owned by a Mr. Voight, who was not an actor but rather a periodontist, and happened to bear the same first name but with the alternate spelling of "John."
As Seinfeld, via his attorney, attempts to obtain some leverage for the negotiation process, he might ask Jerry how George handled his bad "Voight" deal.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit questsin TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.