As I write this, a few days before what has become known as ‘Blue Monday’ here in the UK; the third Monday of the new year and allegedly the most depressing day, it’s nice to be able to bring you some upbeat, permanently nostalgic feel-good news. Yes, the missing James Bond Aston Martin Goldfinger DB5 has apparently been found…
First, a brief introduction to Art Recovery International, and if the mere thought of such an organisation existing reminds you of the Brad Pitt movie, The Monuments Men, well the reality is probably just as romantic. Art Recovery is an organisation founded by lawyer Christopher A Marinello, which specialises in the research and subsequent recovery of stolen works of art, including looted artworks. In July 2018, Art Recovery published an article detailing the 7 strangest and most exotic art thefts ever reported. Among this list was the original Aston Martin Goldfinger DB5, which went missing in 1997 in Boca Raton in Florida, when the famous movie vehicle mysteriously disappeared from an aircraft hangar.
The 1963 Aston Martin DB5 is surely the most famous movie car to have existed, having taken high profile roles in both 1964’s Goldfinger and Thunderball the following year. While the theft was a complete mystery at the time with detectives unable to establish any leads, Art Recovery investigations have seemingly tracked the vehicle down to a private owner based in the Middle East. While there were other Aston Martin vehicles used in the production of these movies, including stunt vehicles and two publicity cars build especially for the promotion of Goldfinger, this particular car – chassis number DP216/1 – was the car that was used for Sean Connery’s close ups when filmed driving the DB5 in Goldfinger.
This most famous James Bond Aston Martin of them all has had a fractured topsy-turvy existence. Originally retired back to Aston Martin HQ following the twin movie appearances, the DP216/1 DB5, which was known as the ‘effects car’, had all its ‘Q’ gadgetry (ejector seats, .30 calibre Browning machine guns hidden behind the front indicators, bulletproof rear and front screens, revolving number plates, etc) taken out and it was returned to its original state. These items were removed to allow Aston Martin to sell the car as a legal road going vehicle. When the car was subsequently sold at auction, the new owner spent good money reinstalling all the Bond gadgets back again courtesy of a Kent-based coachbuilder – naturally enough.
Eventually, the classic 1963 DB5 ended up in the ownership of Anthony V Pugliese III at a cost of $250,000, surely a bargain by today’s movie car collector standards, and it was under his Florida-based ownership that the coveted 007 DB5 went missing from a secure hangar in 1997. It’s rumoured that the insurance payout was some $4.2 million with a further insurance reward of $100,000 for any information leading to its recovery. Further intrigue arose when podcast series, The Most Famous Car in the World, with a voice-over by Elizabeth Hurley, suggested that new evidence had come to light indicating where the DB5 might now be and offered a $100,000 reward for more information.
Art Recovery, who have been chasing the missing Bond car for the past decade, are not giving any more details at this juncture, saying that they always like to give the possessor of any such artefacts the opportunity to come forward and ‘do the right thing’ before pursuing any further. To be fair, Art Recovery do believe that the current owner, who houses the famous 007 Bond Aston Martin in a private collection, was unaware that the car was in fact stolen. The car is estimated to now be worth in the region of around $25 million. We now can only await the next move – whoever it may be from – with bated breath.
For more articles like this, receive our weekly e-newsletter, including partner deals and all things motoring, register your email below.