Has the long-lost 007 Aston Martin DB5 been found?

The Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger was believed stolen and dumped at sea – however, investigators may have finally tracked it down elsewhere…

The Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger, arguably the most iconic vehicle of all time, was assumed lost after criminal activity whisked the vehicle away 19 years ago.

However, Aston’s pinnacle of cinematic automotive history could well be in rude health – hidden away in the Middle East, according to speculation.

Frenzied talk though the grapevine accounts for a syndicate tracking down the DB5 'effects car', one of two 1964 models employed for filming the legendary 1960s spy flick, a cinematic adventure that set the tone for all future Bond movies.

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Investigators have been told that the long-lost car had been re-located to the region after it was stolen from an airport hangar in the Florida Keys back in 1997. Now estimated to be worth in excess of £10 million, the Silver Birch icon had been bought for $250,000 in 1986. Apparently, a ‘six-figure sum’ has been offered for information leading to the DB5’s safe return.

Christopher A Marinello, the chief executive of Art Recovery International, told the press: ‘I have been given a specific tip, but we are working on it. We want to reach out to the collector car community and a vast array of mechanics to let them know we are very serious about recovering it.

‘As there are many Aston Martins, it is very important that we get a shot of the chassis number, DP/216/1. This is what we are looking for, as it is very specific to the vehicle. It is quite possible the potential in the Middle East is a mere lookalike, which is why it is crucial we retain a close-up of the chassis number.’

What happened to the original DB5?

Collector Richard D Losee bought the car from Aston Martin for $12,000 once filming for Goldfinger was completed. He then sold it for $250,000 to businessman and car collector Anthony Pugliese III, who stored the coveted machine at Boca Raton Airport hangar – but it didn’t remain there for long.

In June 1997, the film star car was stolen, leaving only a set of tyre marks in its wake. Police investigators at the time determined the most likely scenario was theft by someone who had targeted the DB5 with specific intent. There was no sign of broken glass – so the vehicle had apparently left the hangar intact.

It was suggested that a chain had been wrapped around the car’s axle and it had been dragged off site by a truck. However, the only vehicle seen in the area that night was a green Range Rover – and it belonged to someone local.

The theft had been well planned, with a lack of sounding alarms suggesting they had severed the power yet disturbed no guards. No other vehicles had been disturbed and no evidence could be found of further transport masking the vehicle’s departure under cover of darkness.

Urban legend suggests that the DB5 was flown over the Florida keys and dumped from a great height into the ocean. If so, the original 007 Aston Martin would have succumbed to corrosion – now a crusty lump of rusty sludge embedded into the silt.

Enthusiasts familiar with this story have speculated motives and potential resting places for the best part of two decades. Yet, no one has ever been charged with involvement in the DB5’s pilfering, leaving the unsolved case one of the most high-profile thefts in the world.

As for Anthony Pugliese III, at the time of the theft he had been in the process of having the Aston Martin valued, and had planned to tour with the car. He's since become known for a number of high-profile acquisitions, including the hat of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, the steel-reinforced hat that Oddjob used as a deadly weapon in Goldfinger and the gun that Jack Ruby used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. He's since sold the hats but is thought to have retianed the gun.

In 2012 charges were filed against Pugliese for creating fake companies and using phony billings to steal from business partner Frederick DeLuca. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years of probation. In January 2018, he was ordered to pay $23 million to the estate of Frederick DeLuca.

The other car used in filming of Goldfinger, known as the 'road car', still exists, and was sold in October 2010 for $4.1 million dollars to collector Harry Yeaggy. There are also two 'press cars', used to promote the film, though they don't appear in the film itself. One is in private hands, having been sold for $2.09 million in 2006; the other is on display in the Louwman Museum in The Hague.

As it turns out, the missing effects car Aston is unlikely to have been dropped from a great height to the ocean floor. Rather, it was probably stolen to order and transported elsewhere. Besides, judging by Bond’s reaction in Skyfall to his beloved Aston’s demise – who would be brave enough to actually destroy it?

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