Multimillionaire Ferrari Collector David Lee Revealed How He Broke the Rules to Get a LaFerrari

Ferrari is one of the most recognized luxury supercar brands. These ultra-elite sports cars start at around $222,000 for a new Ferrari Portofino and can skyrocket into the millions for limited-production models. Regardless of the size of your bank account, owning a Ferrari is considered a privilege. The Italian automaker handpicks who will have the honor of driving its prestigious cars.

Multimillionaire Ferrari collector David Lee had his sights set on a LaFerrari Aperta for $2.2 million. Because the automaker produced only 200 examples of this rare car, the enthusiast had to break the rules to purchase one.

Ferrari has strict rules for buying its cars

A red Ferrari LaFerrari hypercar, similar to the one collector David Lee purchased, is on display inside the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy, in October 2015
A Ferrari LaFerrari similar to the one David Lee purchased | GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Purchasing a Ferrari is unlike any other car-buying experience. Potential owners face strict rules and restrictions. To be included on the VIP list, one must agree to purchase at least four Ferraris. 

According to Autoevolution, candidates are subject to thorough background checks. Social status and reputation play significant roles, and successful men over 40 with clean driving records generally take precedence.

Also, owners cannot sell their Ferraris within the first 18 months of taking possession without approval from the automaker. The company wants to make sure only respectable drivers retain ownership.

In addition, because of a longstanding rivalry, owners of limited-edition models cannot simultaneously own a Lamborghini. Ferrari also frowns upon after-market modifications. All customization work must be performed at the factory in Maranello, Italy, before owners can take delivery. 

Plus, body modifications, aftermarket paint jobs, or tampering with the engine are against Ferrari guidelines. And don’t even think about covering or replacing the iconic Prancing Horse badge.

How Ferrari collector David Lee broke the rules to snag a LaFerrari

Lee is among a handful of car collectors who can boast they’ve owned all five halo cars from Ferrari. According to Super Car Blog, parked in Lee’s massive garage is a Ferrari 288 GTO, F40, F50, and Enzo. When the successful jeweler applied for the limited-run LaFerrari Aperta convertible, the automaker denied his request.

With an impressive car collection valued at $50 million, Lee explained on his YouTube channel how he was able to break the rules to snag the highly sought-after car. Determined to add the hypercar to his collection, he discovered that a Shark Tank judge wanted to sell his special-order LaFerrari. Lee contacted Ferrari North America to discuss the transfer of ownership.

(Lee didn’t disclose the name of the Shark Tank star, but we can surmise it’s fellow Ferrari fan Robert Herjavec.)

Because of Lee’s history with the company, Ferrari allowed him to break the rules to purchase the vehicle. He retained ownership and agreed to an 18-month resale restriction clause.

According to Lee, the Shark Tank judge had seller’s remorse and wanted the car back, claiming it had sentimental value. Lee sold it back to him but admitted he misses the LaFerrari and hopes to have another model in his garage soon.

How David Lee made his money

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ferrari would not sell the new sports car to Lee because of his flashy “look-at-me lifestyle,” saying his actions embarrassed the company’s desire for exclusivity. The automaker was not happy with the unwanted publicity he was receiving.

Lee is the owner of Hing Wa Lee Jewelers, a high-end retail superstore specializing in high-priced watches such as Rolex and Cartier. He also has a thriving real estate portfolio, which Forbes values at $350 million.

With a strong social media presence, the wealthy jeweler refers to fellow car collector Jay Leno as “my bro 24/7,” the LA Times reported. When Lee took his Ferrari F12 TdF DSKL to order a meal at In-N-Out burger, Ferrari frowned upon his antics.

“I will keep sharing my experiences as an owner with the public and drive them as much as I can,” Lee told the LA Times. I don’t see how that could be worse than collectors who hide their collections in a garage and never drive them. That’s the real shame.”

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