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Actor Nicolas Cage buys Shah of Iran’s car

March 12, 1997 GMT

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) _ Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage paid almost half a million dollars at an auction Wednesday for a rare 1971 Lamborghini Miura SVJ owned by the late Shah of Iran.

Cage, bidding by phone from the West Coast of the United States, paid $446,820 _ almost double the estimated value of the car, the crown jewel of the Shah’s collection.

It was the most expensive car sold in auction in Europe this year.

The car was one of 10 formerly owned by the Shah, once one of the world’s most prolific car collectors, that were sold Wednesday in Geneva by the London-based auction house Brooks Europe.

The Shah once owned about 3,000 cars, but Islamic revolutionaries seized them after overthrowing him in 1979. Two-thirds of the cars now provide government transport.

The revolutionaries separated the Lamborghini and the nine other cars from the Shah’s vast collection. They deemed them too decadent for government use, transferred them to a warehouse in Tehran and later sold them.

The Lamborghini was sold to an unidentified Middle Easterner in the early 1990s.

Painted a metallic burgundy, it was the first of only four SVJ’s built, and covered only 1,897 miles in 25 years. Built to the Shah’s specifications, it remained in the Imperial garage, seldom driven, for years.

The fact that the Shah owned the cars increased their value, said Malcolm Barber, auctioneer and managing director of Brooks Limited.

The value of the Shah’s name was ``difficult to assess before the sale, but we knew it could add 10 to 20 percent to the price of a comparable car,″ he said. As for the Lamborghini, ``we were absolutely delighted with the price it brought.″

The second most expensive car was a 1976 Rolls Royce Camargue, bought by a private Saudi Arabian bidder, Mahmoud Said, for $54,160.

``It won’t stay in a warehouse,″ Said said. ``We’ll drive it around ... well, our driver will.″