SAN DIEGO – According to USA Today, comedian Jerry Seinfeld was recently sued by a company over claims that the 1958 Porsche purchased at an auction from his collection was a counterfeit; in response, Seinfeld filed a counterclaim on Feb. 25, stating that European Collectibles of Costa Mesa sold him the vehicle first and sold it to him as an authentic Porsche.
Brian Kabateck of Kabateck LLP, former president of Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and current president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, commented on the situation and the unique nature of the case.
“You don’t usually see this type of case in which an automobile is forged,” Kabateck told the Northern California Record. “Jerry Seinfeld was initially sued and counter-claimed and is now claiming that if the Porsche in question is a counterfeit, he is not in the wrong as he bought it from the company that supposedly specializes in cars.”
Kabateck believes that Seinfeld is likely not liable in any intentional sense, for while Seinfeld is a Porsche enthusiast, he was unlikely aware that the vehicle was allegedly a counterfeit.
Brian Kabateck Kabateck LLP
“The group that Seinfeld is suing have held themselves out to be experts, and held themselves out to be professionals when it comes to Porsche cars, so he has a right to rely on what they sold him as being genuine,” Kabateck said. “It was a smart move for him to file this counterclaim against them.”
Seinfeld purchased the car in 2013 for $1.2 million from European Collectibles and Fica Frio Limited later purchased the vehicle for $1.5 million at an auction in March 2016, according to USA Today. Fica Frio filed the suit Feb. 1 in a Manhattan federal court.
While it is uncommon for the average consumer to purchase a vehicle for more than $1 million, Kabateck said that there are several rules to follow which can help consumers protect themselves from being scammed.
“Protection for consumers really comes down to a question of cost and benefit, and whenever you’re buying something from a professional, you have a right to rely,” Kabateck said. “If you’re at a garage sale and somebody says ‘This is an original Picasso,’ you shouldn’t be relying on that, but if you are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for art and the people selling it say ‘this is a signed, lithograph Picasso,’ you have some reason to rely on what they told you because they are professionals.”
In the end, Kabateck said, it really all comes down to how much money is being spent on the item.
“Depending on how much money you’re spending, the consumer would be wise to employ a third party to take a look and confirm that the item is really what they are buying,” Kabateck said. “The consumer has to look at the item in totality.”