The Mystery of the Missing Goldfinger DB5

15 December, 2009

As mysterious as the iconic film character, James Bond himself, the theft of the classic 1965 Aston Martin DB5 is one of the most baffling cases of grand theft auto recognized today. The high-profile crime stumped Boca Raton Police Department, residents and auto enthusiasts alike, as the co-star of several James Bond films dissappeared from the Boca Raton Airport Hangar in June of 1997. Over the past four decades, the DB5 has generated a high level of celebrity, and just like a movie star, its history seethes with twists, turns and of course, scandal.

aston martin db5 james bondAston Martin luxury vehicles have long been recognized for their power, performance and sex appeal, so it was a natural decision to feature this classy piece of machinery in the then, up and coming Bond film, Goldfinger. Aston Martin jumped at the opportunity and quickly made improvements on the existing DB4, getting their star DB5 ready for its close-up. Just like a real leading lady, however, the Aston Martin had its own stunt double, because the original tricked-out, weaponized version proved too heavy to shoot high speed chases. Upon the release of Goldfinger, the popularity of the film and vehicle soared immediately. Requests for appearances of the DB5 poured in from everywhere, everyone wanting "the Goldfinger car" at their preimiers, events, museum exhibits and car shows. Obviously unable to fulfill all the appearance requests worldwide with only two existing cars used in the movie, two more models were created, spitting images of the original. In total, four original vehicles were produced by Aston Martin and the film producers for the film, one star car, one stunt car, and two P.R. cars used to promote the movie around the globe.

Eventually, other models of the Aston Martin emerged, making it more difficult over the years to identify the ones which were the originals. The Four used for Goldfingerwere all bought, sold, tweaked, adjusted and resold, and in 1981, three of the four ended up at the hands of Richard Losee, Jerry Lee and Frank Baker. All three men claimed to be the proud owner of the original Goldfinger car, but all three knew there could only be one. After much dispute among the men, they turned to Aston Martin to properly identify each vehicle's authenticity. After all, it had been 16 years since the film's release, and the vehicle's rapid rate of transformation and resale had blurred the lines of its origin. Aston Martin was able to properly identify each car by the chassis identification numbers. Richard Losee turned out to be the winning owner of the Goldfinger star car, worth between three and four million dollars. Lee posessed the stunt car and Baker had one of the two tour vehicles used for promotional use, the other owned by Smokey Mountain Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. With ownership of the vehicles clarified once and for all, the celebrity vehicle seemed to keep a low profile for the next several years, only to retake the spotlight in 1997, but not for a bond film.

aston martin db5 007Owner of the star car, Richard Losee eventually sold his prized posession for a cool $250,000 to businessman and car collector, Anthony Pugliese III, who stored it at the Boca Raton Airport Hangar. In June of 1997, local officers were stunned upon learning the legendary film star had been stolen from the hangar. Due to the crime scene, police determined the most likely scenario was the theives had tore a gate off its hinges, wrapped a chain around the car's axel and dragged it out of the property. The absence of alarms sounding immediately suggested they had severed any alarm wires, giving them plenty of time to execute the film-like theft. Officers cross-referenced for the following weeks, to ensure no vehicles had been transferred, on or offloaded to an aircraft. There was also no evidence of the vehicle being dumped in the ocean or discarded of in any other manner. To this day, the case remains unsolved.

Luxury vehicle enthusiasts familiar with this story have speculated motive for the theft, the prominent one being insurance fraud, as the car's insurance appraisal was upwards of $4million. Yet, no one has ever been charged with being remotely involved in the crime. The open end to this case makes it one of the most high profile heists Boca Raton and South Florida has ever seen, but the questions remain. How did the theives really do it? Was there an inside man? What was the motive, and will the celebrity star car ever resurface?

© 2009 Motor News Florida - motornewsflorida.com


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