Swiss auction off supercars of Equatorial Guinea leader’s son

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Luxury cars are displayed at an auction in the Swiss village of Cheserex, near GenevaImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
The luxury cars were sold at a golf club in the Swiss village of Cheserex, near Geneva

A collection of supercars confiscated from the son of Equatorial Guinea's president have been auctioned off in Switzerland.

The cars were seized by Swiss authorities as part of an investigation into Teodorin Nguema Obiang.

He is vice-president to his father, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea for 40 years.

Twenty-five of Mr Obiang's cars went under the hammer at a golf club near Geneva on Sunday.

The cars, among them Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys and Rolls Royces, fetched about $27m (£21.9m; 26m Swiss francs) in total.

Under a deal will prosecutors, some $23m will go to social projects in Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony where poverty is rife.

One of the most "rare and remarkable" cars, a 2014 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, was sold for $8.3m to an anonymous buyer.

It is a new world record price for a Lamborghini sold at auction, British auctioneers Bonhams said.

The hammer price for the 354km/h (220mph) car, introduced to celebrate Lamborghini's 50th anniversary, was about 50% more than its pre-sale estimate.

An Aston Martin One-77 Coupe, described as an "absolute rocket ship" by the auction house, went for $1.5m.

"Cars like this would be the jewel of any collection, but to have them all together is really quite extraordinary," Lynnie Farrant, press officer for auctioneer Bonhams, told the BBC.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
A Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, part of a collection of luxury cars owned by Teodorin Nguema Obiang
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The cars were seized by Swiss prosecutors as part of an investigation into Teodorin Nguema Obiang

The cars attracted interest from collectors across the world, especially Europe, Ms Farrant said.

Several supercars were bought by an agent for a collector in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a Swiss bidder told Reuters news agency.

Around 50 other cars were sold at the auction in the Swiss village of Cheserex, 30km (18 miles) from Geneva.

A 1956 Aston Martin Lagonda, owned by the late Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, was among them.

Who is Teodorin Nguema Obiang?

Mr Obiang is seen as the heir-apparent to his father, who has been president since 1979.

The 51 year old served as an adviser to his father and minister for agriculture, before being appointed vice-president in 2012.

In international media reports, Mr Obiang has drawn criticism for his extravagant spending habits and playboy lifestyle.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Mr Obiang has been known to share his flamboyant lifestyle on social media

In a 2004 article, the New York Times described him as "a rap music entrepreneur and bon vivant, fond of Lamborghinis and long trips to Hollywood and Rio de Janeiro".

Swiss prosecutors were investigating Mr Obiang for money laundering and misuse of public funds, but dropped the case in February this year.

The prosecutors said they closed the inquiry into Mr Obiang as part of an arrangement to sell his cars to fund social programmes in his country.

In 2017, a French court handed him a three-year suspended jail term for corruption.