Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Price Vanity? $14 Million For License Plate

No. 1 tag auctioned off for charity

Emirati Saed Abdul Ghaffar al-Khouri (L) speaks on the phone as he poses with the most expensive car number-plate after he won it in an auction in the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi on February 16, 2008. Al-Khouri won the plate after bidding 52.2 milion dirhmas (14.2 million dollars) to become the most expensive single-digit car registration plate in the world.

The AP reports:

A license plate with nothing but the number "1" on it went for a record $14 million at a charity auction Saturday.

Saeed Khouri, a member of a wealthy Abu Dhabi family, wouldn't say how many automobiles he owned or which of them might carry the record-breaking single-digit plate.

"I bought it because it's the best number," said Khouri, whose family made its fortune in real estate. "I bought it because I want to be the best in the world."

The oil-rich UAE began auctioning off vanity license plates last May.

Saeed Khouri, foreground, and others bid on a No. 1 vanity license plate during a charity auction in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Khouri won with a bid of $14 million.

Ordinary automobile license plates issued to drivers here — and even most other vanity series plates — carry both Arabic and Western numerals and script, defining the issuing city and country.

Khouri's plate, however, has only the Western numeral and no letters.

The record sale surpassed the $6.8 million that was paid for an Emirati license plate at an earlier auction with the Western number 5 on it — also without Arabic numerals or letters.

The license plate sits in a display case before the start of the charity auction Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

Proceeds from the auctions, which are held in a lavish hotel here, go to a rehabilitation center for victims of traffic accidents.

On Saturday, 90 license plates were auctioned off in all, raising a total of $24 million. The previous five such events raised more than $50 million.