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Ferrari with Cincinnati ties to be auctioned off in London

One of the world's rarest race cars, which could be worth as much as $15 million, is scheduled to be auctioned off in London next month, as part of a court settlement. In its time, the Ferrari 375 Plus was the fastest car on the track. The company made only six of them and just four are thought to still exist.

Green Township owner reported it stolen in 1988

Karl Kleve stored the car outside in Green Township with a hundred other old cars. Kristi (Kleve) Lawson says her dad knew the car was valuable when he bought it in 1958 for $2,500. "He collected Duesenbergs; he collected Rolls-Royces. I know he had at least a dozen." Kleve reported the Ferrari stolen in 1988 and two Cincinnati men were later convicted of the crime, but the car had disappeared. Lawson said her dad searched for it for years, eventually tracking it down in Belgium.

WVXU reported the story for NPR in 2010.

Interpol got involved and convinced Belgium authorities the car was stolen. Eventually it was released to Jacques Swaters, a former Belgian race car driver.

Belgium race car driver sued for title

Swaters tells a different story. He says in 1990 a trader sold it to him for $100,000. "I was very interested because it was a very famous car," he says, "and then a little later I learned the car had been stolen, so I charged a lawyer to negotiate with the owner to make a settlement."

Swaters said he paid Kleve more than $600,000 for the car and Kleve cashed the check. Kleve's daughter said her father never received any money.

In 2010, Swatters sued for the title and parts. He had since fixed up the car and it sits in the Ferrari museum in Italy.

Swaters is now dead and Karl Kleve died before the lawsuit was filed.  So the court case is being sorted out between Kristi Lawson and Swaters' daughter Florence Swaters


Hamilton County Judge Norbert Nadel's court reports a settlement has been reached. It specifies the following:

  • Defendants Joseph Ford and Kristine Lawson shall ship all car parts - including original body panels, fuel tank documents, records, and photographs -to Bonhams in London.
  • Ford and Lawson shall ship all existing registration documents, USA titles, Bills of Sales and other conveyance documents they possess or control.
  • The car, now refurbished, will be auctioned off and Lawson and Florence Swaters will split the proceeds.