In 1990, Jacques “Jack” Swaters and business associate Phillipe Lancksweert purchased a burned-out chassis of a rare 1954 Ferrari 375 Plus – serial number 0384AM – from L’Exception Automobile, a Belgian auto dealer, for $100,000. At the time, they could not have imagined it would still be an ordeal 20 years later.
The car, it turns out, had been stolen from the property of Karl Kleve in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, between 1985 and 1989. Kleve reported the theft in January 1989.
In 1997, Kleve hired a search service to pursue negotiations for a possible monetary settlement regarding the car, which was in Belgium. In September 1999, Swaters and Kleve entered into a Settlement Agreement resolving all ownership issues and transferring the title of the car to Swaters and Lancksweert. As part of the Settlement Agreement and in exchange for payment of $625,000, Kleve also provided Swaters and Lancksweert with numerous transfer documents, including the original Ohio title, Kleve’s original Bill of Sale and certifications removing the theft status of the car.
Swaters has the original signed and notarized Settlement Agreement that transferred all ownership rights to Swaters and Lancksweert. Swaters has copies of the checks that were written and cashed. And he has the original title to the car.
And yet … there is a court case in Cincinnati, Ohio, in which Kleve’s daughter is disputing ownership of the car, the title and parts that are still in the United States.