The Dominelli Discovery

Now listed on Motoring Investments!

Recently we had the opportunity to acquire a Mercedes W113, but when we found this 280SL, she came with a bit more lore than expected. When we first stumbled upon the car we found it hidden away in a Southern California garage. Subsequently it arrived to our facilities to a bit of fanfare given the car’s illustrious former-owner. We have compiled a video on the discovery and delivery of the forty year old Pagoda to our shop in the following video:

The Signal Red Mercedes 280SL is verified as a car once possessed by the Dominelli’s, which is a name that cemented itself and J. David’s infamous legacy in San Diego history as one of the preeminent financial gurus turned-Ponzi-Schemer in modern history. Dominelli’s main source of prominence came from early years of investing in volatile money making affairs such as international currency markets, to which he found a great deal of success which awarded him quite the reputation in the city. He was well-regarded by many as a shy but brilliant man, associating with many high ranking government officials and business magnates during his rise to local fame.

Eventually, his empire came crashing down upon him and his lavish lifestyle as the checks began to bounce. An estimated $80 million (roughly $200,000,000 in 2021 currency valuation) vanished into thin air. When the dust settled it is estimated 1,000 to 1,500 victims of Dominelli’s Ponzi Scheme would end up losing large chunks of their net worth. Dominelli eventually pled guilty to mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and tax evasion; which would land him in federal prison for the remainder of his days. A larger and more thorough summary of the events is available at the following New York Times article from the period:

June 3, 1984

He was indeed quite the character with an appetite for the finer things in life.

After the car’s title was transferred to a lawyer of the Dominelli’s for payment. This piece of modern San Diego and US history is now available for purchase on the Motoring Investments Here.

Additionally, we have found a news report from the 1984 auction of Dominelli’s estate which displays pieces of his car collection. Say what you want, Dominelli had good taste despite financial (and moral) bankruptcy:

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