In the spring of 1994, our new company, Gruggen Buckley, landed it's first blue chip client, McCaw Communications. McCaw Communications, owned by Craig McCaw, was at that time the largest cell phone provider in the United States.
AT&T was not a player in the cellular phone industry back then. They were all about long distance telephony. Recognizing that the future of telecommunications was going to be mobile, they decided that they had to be a player. So they coddled up to Craig McCaw, whispered sweet nothings in his ear and tenderly slid 12.6 billion dollars into his right front pants pocket.
Fortunately, Gruggen Buckley was kept on by AT&T for a glorious 11-year run. Craig McCaw rode off into the sunset. But 12.6 billion dollars gives you a lot of freedom. With money like that, you can buy a 325 acre private island and create your own paradise off the coast of Vancouver. And you can also become one of the greatest car collectors on the planet.
If you are a serious car collector, you must sign up to hunt for the holy grail...the Ferrari 250 Gran Turismo Omologata. Ferrari only built 39 of these cars between 1962 and 1964. They were race cars, through and through. Produced for homologation into FIA's Group 3 Grand Touring Car category, this super lightweight car had a V-12 engine that put out 300 horsepower.
If you wanted a Ferrari GTO back in the day, it would cost you $18,000 and you had to be personally vetted by Enzo Ferrari. That was a huge pot of money back then...by comparison you could get a new Shelby AC Cobra for $5,995 or a new Corvette for $3,957.
There are only 39 men in the world that own a Ferrari GTO. It is considered the pinnacle of the car collector market. Ralph Lauren has one. Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason has one. Craig McCaw did not have one. But remember, you can't be at the top of the car collector food chain unless you have one.
As of May, Craig McCaw is now at the top of the food chain. The car pictured above is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that was made for Sterling Moss (the light green color was his racing livery). It is now parked in Craig McCaw's garage. And the price he just paid for it makes it the most expensive car in the world.
To get to the top of the food chain, Craig had to shell out $35 million (the last GTO sold went for a paltry $31.7 million). While $35 million may seem like a lot of money for a car, it represents just 0.2% of the money that AT&T paid him to go away.
Ferrari 250 GTO. That's what I call riding off into the sunset in style.