- Sep 3, 2006
- GTA, Ontario, Canada
- '04 Toyota Corolla LE
$1.5M car refund demanded
By Dalson Chen, The Windsor StarSeptember 1, 2009
Billionaire Windsor industrialist Barry Zekelman has found out money can't buy everything after he unsuccessfully tried to buy a Bugatti Veyron -- one of the most expensive and exclusive production cars in the world.
Now Zekelman is suing the car's dealers and makers for allegedly failing to refund the $1.5 million he paid in full.
"Bugatti Troy has breached its contract with Mr. Zekelman by failing to deliver the 2009 Italian Red Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Coupe, and by failing to refund Mr. Zekelman the $1,553,354.57 he paid for the vehicle," say court documents.
These allegations have yet to be proven in court.
The car Zekelman wanted has a 1,001 horsepower engine and a top speed in excess of 400 km/h. It can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds.
There are only about 200 of the cars in the world.
Bugatti's promotional literature touts the 16.4 Coupe as a "super sports car."
It refers to the car as possibly "the most sophisticated production vehicle of all times."
Bugatti Veyron owners include oil tycoons and celebrities such as fashion designer Ralph Lauren and American Idol's Simon Cowell.
According to the lawsuit, Zekelman walked into a Bugatti dealership in Troy, Mich., in September 2008 and spoke to a salesman about buying a 2009 model of the 16.4 Coupe.
The lawsuit states that Zekelman made a $428,000 advance payment within days of visiting the dealership. On Dec. 15, Zekelman wired the remaining $1.1 million.
A week after the money was wired, Zekelman received e-mails from the dealership informing him that the 2009 model of the 16.4 Coupe would never be available as Bugatti had stopped making the cars in 2008.
A 2008 model was offered to Zekelman. He refused and demanded a full refund.
More than eight months later, court documents state that Bugatti has still not given back the money.
"Remarkable. That's how I viewed it when I first saw (the situation)," said Steve Cohen of Cohen, Lerner & Rabinovitz, the law firm representing Zekelman.
"Mr. Zekelman's position is fairly simple. He paid money for something he didn't get. He will get his money back, because that's the only fair thing to do."
Asked if the company has offered any explanations for why they are withholding a full refund, Cohen said their answers have been insubstantial.
"In their pleadings, they have made certain positions that claim they don't have to return all of it -- only parts of it," Cohen said. "There are disputes, and we really don't understand them."
Bugatti Automobiles SAS is owned by Volkswagen. Cohen said the fact that the company is based in Europe has posed problems to the progress of the lawsuit.
Staff at the Bugatti dealership in Troy refused to comment about the situation.
Ross Dressel, the salesman who dealt with Zekelman and is named in the lawsuit, said: "You'd have to speak to somebody else. I don't have an answer for you."
A man who identified himself as Dressel's sales manager said: "I don't know anything about it. You'll have to talk to our lawyers."
But the sales manager said he does not know who is representing Bugatti in the case. "You got to understand, we're so far down the food chain, we don't know these things."
Zekelman and his two brothers inherited the steel tube manufacturing company Atlas Tube from their father in 1984.
The Zekelman family has since sold the company for more than $3 billion.
Last summer, Barry Zekelman, 42, and his wife Stephanie bought a $14-million vacation home in Phoenix, Ariz.
The Zekelmans have also made numerous philanthropic contributions. In 2007, the family donated $10 million to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.
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