World War II ended seven decades ago, yet some battles are still being fought. The latest concerns the true owner of a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster that was sold at last year's RM Monterey sale for $3.7 million. A German court has now ruled that the car is the property of the heirs of the wealthy German industrialist who originally purchased the car, according to Bloomberg.
Dutch collectors Franz van Haren and Tony Paalman bought the classic Mercedes at the California auction, but when they had it shipped to Techno Classica in Essen, Germany, this March, the car was seized by the local constabulary, according to Sports Car Market.
The Mercedes was bought new by Hans Prym in 1935 and owned by the so-called "Zipper King" until its disappearance in 1945, when Prym was sent to prison by the Allies. Prym's heirs charged that the car was stolen by American servicemen and shipped out of the country, according to Bloomberg. Under German law, the 30-year statute of limitations had not expired because the car was not in Germany. Indeed, nobody seems to know what happened to the car between the end of the war and the 1970s, when it "turned up in the collection of pioneer collector Russell Strauch," as the RM Auction listing stated.
While the Dutch collectors may no longer have their car, they may still be able to get their money back from the RM seller, according to Sports Car Market. Whether they'll employ this tactic or fight the German court's decision should prove interesting.