Ferrari 250 GTO sells for $52 million in latest world record

In February 2012, a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO became the most expensive car ever sold, fetching a staggering $32 million. Then, just a few months later, a 1962 GTO, built for the legendary Sir Stirling Moss, eclipsed that record selling for $35 million. But in the world of Ferraris, GTOs, and incredibly affluent, unidentified buyers, a $35 million GTO is now a relative steal. That's because a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO has just sold for $52 million according to Bloomberg, snatching the record as the latest "most expensive car ever sold."

How long will this record last?

It's only been a handful of months since we brought you the sale of the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider, becoming the second most expensive car ever to sell at auction, amassing $27.5 million — slotting below Fangio's $29.6 million Mercedes W196 Grand Prix winning car. What, therefore, makes the 250 GTO worth so much more than a legendary Formula One car and a machine as rare as one of William Shakespeare's signatures?

With just 39 in existence, the 250 GTO still boasts incredible rarity. And its racing heritage, built to compete in the Le Mans 24-Hours, combined with its timeless good looks, makes the GTO hold unprecedented allure amongst investors. Adding to the mania, private sales tend to fetch more than public auctions.

But the 250 GTO has become somewhat of a status symbol, being deemed an item that defines a collection — and hence defines the owner. The latest record-breaking GTO, bearing chassis number 5111, won the 1963 Tour de France road race with Jean Guichet at the helm, and was owned by American collector Paul Pappalardo. While Pappalardo reportedly wouldn't confirm the sale, Bloomberg claims three specialist traders independently verified the purchase.

With Ferrari sales from the '50s and '60s surging -- rising around 15 percent annually for more than 30 years -- the GTO has lured wealthy investors looking for an appreciating asset; yet eventually, an inevitable plateau will ensue. Experts predict that the popularity of the GTO amongst investors may in fact cause the bubble to pop, although clearly that time has not yet arrived. And perhaps they're onto something: How much would a Mona Lisa be worth if Leonardo da Vinci had painted 39 instead of just one?