“No Time to Die” and the continuing mystery of the missing Aston Martin DB5 Bond car
WASHINGTON. The news was enough to shake, not stir, the senses of devoted James Bond enthusiasts the world over. The Aston Martin DB5 driven by 007 license to kill James Bond (Sean Connery) in the 1964 motion picture “Goldfinger,” has a cameo in the 25th installment of the 58-year-old film franchise, “No Time to Die.”
But the tricked-out ’64 vehicle, with its weaponry and onboard countermeasures, disappeared from history 24 years ago.
The car in question was the best of the twin vehicles used in the classic action film. That particular Aston Martin contained front bumper-mounted twin Browning 30-caliber machine guns, a rising rear bullet-proof shield, revolving license plates, telescoping tire slashers, smoke machine, GPS dashboard, and oil-slick dispenser.
Oh, and a passenger ejector seat.
“Ejector Seat? You’re joking?” says the incredulous Bond to British Secret Service quartermaster and techno-wizard, Q.
“I never joke about my work, 007,” Q replies. “And, incidentally, we’d appreciate its return, along with all your other equipment… intact for once.”
The car in question was indeed returned intact to the movie production company at the conclusion of filming.
And it was sold for around $15,000 to American classic car collector, Richard Losee. In 1986, the car ended up in the hands of Florida real estate developer and pop-culture collector, Anthony Pugliese III. The Bond Aston Martin cost him a cool $275,000.
Among Pugliese’s prized collection are several Whangee canes used by silent-era comedic actor Charlie Chaplin, a tailcoat worn by Orson Wells in “Citizen Kane,” and the .38 Colt Cobra revolver employed by Jack Ruby to kill JFK assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Today, the Bond Aston Martin DB5s value at around $4.2 million. Unfortunately for Pugliese, he isn’t able to enjoy the car.
On a quiet night in 1997, a team of thieves snuck into the Boca Raton Airport aircraft hanger where the car was stored in South Florida. Entering the building without setting off the alarm, a tow truck pulls the vehicle from the hangar. All this being somehow accomplished without alerting the solitary security guard on duty.
That’s when it’s believed the car was loaded aboard a cargo plane and flown to parts unknown.
But there were those who weren’t so sure. Some accused Pugliese of sailing the car out to sea and dumping it on a reef somewhere off the Florida coast. The reason? To collect the insurance money, of course.
One expert familiar with the situation believed the car was insured for more than it was worth. Jim Grundy, of classic car insurer Grundy Worldwide, told Motortrend magazine in 2012:
“I used poor judgment in accepting the [$4.2 million] value… $500,000 or one million would’ve protected his investment.”
Pugliese’s former brother-in-law, Robert Luongo, won his lawsuit to claim a chunk of the insurance payout as compensation for his many hours promoting the vehicle to various exhibition vendors. He proved, to the satisfaction of the court, he had a verbal agreement with Pugliese to receive 10 percent of the proceeds from the Bond car’s eventual sale – and was therefore due a cut of the insurance money as compensation.
But all the talk of insurance fraud dampened when Christopher A. Marinello, CEO and founder of Art Recovery International (ARI), entered the scene. ARI is an institution dedicated to
“recovering stolen, looted, and missing works of art… [and] uniquely proficient in negotiating complex title disputes between collectors, dealers, museums and insurance companies,” says its website.
ARI negotiated the return of a painting stolen by the Nazis from Jewish Parisian art dealer Paul Rosenberg, a connoisseur of 20th-century art. In 2015, Rosenberg’s descendants saw the return of Henri Matisse’s “Femme Assise” thanks to ARI.
In 2018, Marinello told the London Telegraph he was “given a specific tip” to the whereabouts of the Bond Aston Martin. He said he wished “to reach out to [the] collector car community and the vast array of mechanics to let them know we are very serious about recovering it.”
The tipster said the person in possession of the stolen car lives somewhere in the Middle East.
Marinello told Art & Wine magazine that
“the current possessor knows it is stolen and most likely does not care. One day, he might get called out or a relative with scruples may come forward. You never know.”
In the 2012 Movie “Skyfall,” 007 (Daniel Craig) and MI6 leader M (Judi Dench) abandon their black sedan in a dark alley. As Bond approaches a garage door, he turns to M,
“We’re changing vehicles. The trouble with company cars is they have trackers.”
With the garage door opened, M is astonished to see the un-trackable 1964 Aston Martin DB5.
“Oh, and I suppose that’s completely inconspicuous?” M quips.
Clearly, Bond was right about the flashy vehicle’s more discreet aspects. And so, James Bond fans await the day 007’s Aston Martin DB5 is wrenched from the clutches of some yet unknown, diabolical, Middle East Bond villain.
Last August, The Telegraph of Britain reported the stolen Bond Aston Martin DB5 was spotted somewhere in the Middle East. It could be Bahrain, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait. But Christopher Marinello of ARI isn’t saying where.
“It was in a private setting that the car was spotted. That’s the risk you take – you can’t publicly show it off because you never know who is going to come forward.”
Marinello added that law enforcement agencies around the world, as well as members of the diplomatic community, are aiding in the search for the stollen Bond car.
“We’re getting closer and closer. I’m waiting for my phone to ring,” Marinello told the Telegraph.
“No Time to Die” will be in theaters Oct. 8th.
About the Author:
Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area, and now resides in South Florida. A cigar and bourbon aficionado, Steven is a political staff writer for Communities Digital News and an incredibly talented artist.
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