This is the fascinating story of the most fascinating DB5, and it seems to have a happy ending. If the vehicle is indeed recovered, its value is estimated at $25+ million, which would also make it the most expensive DB5 ever.
For the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger with Sir Sean Connery as the lead, EON Productions spoke to Aston Martin about getting a new car. That car was the DB5, with the marque delivering four units in total for the film: two of them were used during actual production, and two served as promotional vehicles. Of the former two, one was the effects car, meaning it was rigged with all the gadgetry and weaponry one has come to expect from a James Bond vehicle, while the other was the road car, which was used for beauty shots.
After filming, EON returned both vehicles to Aston Martin, and the one we’re interested in was stripped down of all the extra stuff and sold as a regular DB5. Certainly aware of how that would impact its worth, the first owner didn’t hesitate to restore it to its movie glory, using exact replicas of the gadgets. Until 1986, the DB5 was traded several times, with each transaction increasing its market value.
In 1986, Anthony V. Pugliese III bought it at auction for $250,000, not including fees. A true Renaissance man, Pugliese is a Florida real estate developer and businessman with deep connections to the art world and showbiz industry. He is also a well-known pop culture memorabilia collector, and perhaps one of the biggest in the country. At one point, his collection included Christopher Reeve’s Superman costumes, Oddjob’s steel hat from Goldfinger, Charlie Chaplin’s canes, the hat of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz, and the Colt Cobra .38 that Jack Ruby used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. The Goldfinger DB5 fit right in.
Right out of a
Insurance paid Pugliese $4.2 million, and offered a $100,000 reward for any tips on the vehicle’s whereabouts, but the reality was that it had simply vanished. Poof. Theories claimed that it had been airlifted with a cargo plane and shipped overseas, or maybe dropped into the ocean to claim insurance. Others believed the car never left the U.S., and that maybe Pugliese hid it at one of his safe storage facilities.
Apparently, the serial numbers have checked out, and this is the missing James Bond holy grail. Marinello won’t say where exactly it is found, but he is convinced the current owner has no idea he’s in possession of stolen goods. “I think they should make every effort to have a discreet and confidential discussion about how we clear the title to this iconic vehicle,” he told The Telegraph in an older interview.
As of the time of press, the missing 1963 Aston Martin DB5 has not been recovered. When – and if – it is, should it emerge on the specialized market once more, it could sell for a price well over $25 million. And, hopefully, tell a story to match.