A round of applause, please. No, make that a 21-gun salute. No, a Fourth of July-style firework display. For what? The amazingly generous crowd of enthusiastic paddle-wavers and passionate benefactors at last weekend’s Naples Winter Wine Festival.
They helped raise a staggering $33 million—in just four hours of bidding—for underserved and at-risk children in Collier County. This record sum helped push the tally brought in since the festival’s inception in 2001, to over $302 million.
Me? I was there as a guest of my friends at Rolls-Royce, who donated a brand-new, all-electric Spectre for the auction. The sticker price of this custom model in stunning two-tone Arctic White with contrasting Tempest Grey? A non-trivial $559,200.
Going once, going twice, sold for $1.4 million. The lucky new owner? Naples resident, tech entrepreneur, and passionate Ferrari enthusiast, Onur Haytac. This was his first Rolls-Royce.
“The Spectre is one of the most incredible machines in the world and it really is an honor to be able to now call one my own. But the real honor here is contributing to help the kids,” said Onur.
The car itself was provided by local dealer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Naples, after general manager Jason Reidel persuaded a long-time customer to give up his slot for the auction. Right now, the current waiting list for this electric two-door stretches well into 2025.
The Spectre joins a list of one-off Rolls-Royce models that have been auctioned to benefit the Naples Children and Education Foundation. One of the top money-raisers is still the Phantom Drophead Coupe that sold for a record $2 million in the 2007.
The action took place inside a packed, chandeliered tent at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Tiburón in Naples, where more than 650 enthusiastic bidders paid $17,500-a-couple to get a seat at the auction, and bid on 50 spectacular lots.
One especially enthusiastic paddle-waver was Naples philanthropist Betsy Ryan, who won Lot 17, bidding $650,000 for a spectacular Caribbean Blue Pearl 2024 Aston Martin DB12 Volante, donated by Aston Martin and Naples Luxury Imports.
“I saw it in the catalog and fell in love with that amazing blue color. No, I didn’t realize how powerful it was, but I know it’s going to be a lot of fun to drive,” said Ryan.
But there was more. In addition to driving away in the 671-horsepower DB12, Ryan and a plus-one will get to join the Aston Martin Formula 1 racing team as VIP guests at this year’s Miami Grand Prix, for a three-day, all-access experience.
For one Barbie-loving couple, driving home in a fully restored 1966 Ford Bronco, painted in custom Barbie pink, was well-worth the $320,000 they paid. Powered by a new Ford 5.0-liter V8 packing 460 horsepower, it came with a gorgeous, hand-stitched white leather interior.
Another jaw-dropping winning automotive bid came right at the end of the auction, with a too-cute 1972 Fiat 500 Jolly convertible in Tiffany Blue with a fringed Surrey top, raising a massive $600,000.
While the winning bidder was able to drive away in the piccolo Fiat, they’ll have to wait another 12 months to enjoy the second part of the lot. This includes a three-night stay for two couples at The Ritz-Carlton Naples for the 2025 Winter Wine Festival.
As for the highest money-raiser at this year’s auction, the $2.7 million bid by Naples Wine Festival chair Ralph Stayer for a week’s Mediterranean cruise for six couples aboard the 312-foot superyacht Whisper, set a new record.
Formerly known as Kismet, the yacht was built in 2014 for Naples-based billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team. Khan sold the yacht last year to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, but kept his promise for it to be used as a headline auction lot.
That alone deserved a huge round of applause. And it got one.