With its action-packed scenes, beautiful scenery, and luxurious jewels, James Bond continues to be a cult classic. However, when a particular vehicle from the film mysteriously disappeared, questions were raised…
The Aston Martin DB5
The James Bond films are some of the most famous of all time - from the action-packed scenes to the captivating characters and, of course, the futuristic gadgets. Specifically, the iconic vehicles.
We can't unsee James Bond racing through the world in a luxurious Aston Martin. But according to the 007 creator Ian Fleming, he initially envisioned Bond driving a DB Mark III, and before that, an old-fashioned Bentley! However, after the first two movies, a new supercar joined the picture.
The First Meet
The third installment, Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery as the MI6 agent, was released in 1964. And for the first time, the iconic car would be used. The special effects expert John Stears pushed for the team to use an Aston Martin DB5 prototype during the production of the movie.
Sean Connery was immediately up for the responsibility and jumped into the front seat. Who wouldn't want an opportunity to drive around in the DB5? The car was stacked with unreal Bond-appropriate gadgets (like an ejector seat). And just like that, Aston Martin was in.
Back & Better Than Ever
The Aston Martin DB5 was a major success in the film's third installment, so of course, the franchise had no other choice but to bring it back again for a few more films in the future. The same super-sleek car was brought back for the next sequel, Thunderball, in 1965.
The car's unbelievable gadgetry captured audiences worldwide and became one of the main focal points for the multiple movies the car was later featured in. After that, Aston Martin frequently appeared in the 007 movies. Quickly, it became one of the most famously recognized in the industry.
The DB5 Lives On
The ridiculously famous vehicle attracted fans from all over the world due to its sleek and sexy appearance - but what was going on in the inside was even more intriguing for some. The vehicle was equipped with bulletproof shields, special wheel blades, and so much more.
The luxury car was unlike anything else seen before, and fans were taken back. The Aston Martin debuted in the 1964 film Goldfinger. But due to its overwhelming impression, it has since then appeared in six Bond films: Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall, and Spectre.
James Bond Takes Over the World
The first 007 film, Dr. No, was released in 1963, starring the Scottish Sean Connery - and immediately the film took off. It quickly turned into a hot franchise. During the 1960s, when John F. Kennedy was President, he made it clear that Ian Flemming was one of his favorite writers. But that's not all.
The actor became so famously known as the elite James Bond agent that he had a hard time separating his character from himself as an actor. After seven appearances, the actor eventually exited the wildly successful movie franchise - but the car fixation remained...
A Worldwide Attraction
The Aston Martin DB5 was desired by many - including The Beatles' bass guitarist, Paul McCartney. So much so, the singer ordered one for himself after seeing the famed Aston Martin at the Goldfinger premiere. Car fanatics and Bond enthusiasts were doing anything they could to purchase the DB5. However, it wasn't too easy.
Due to its extreme popularity, the luxury vehicle was put on display at multiple sites. Over the years, fans from all over the world came to take a look at the Bond-driven car. Almost twenty years after its first on-screen appearance, the car's value was revealed, leaving fans stunned by the massive price tag.
Up for Auction
After two decades, the original Aston Martin DB5 was put up for auction at an RM Sotheby's auction house. Avid fans and attendees who had a large amount of money to drop on the one-of-a-kind vehicle all got together to place bids on the outrageously expensive Bond prop.
Sold! Real estate mogul Anthony Pugliese ended up being the lucky person who became the proud owner of the DB5 - but it didn't come cheap. Pugliese reportedly paid $275,000 for the pimped-out ride. Though, looking back now, that price tag wasn't so large.
Only Up From Here
The $275,000 Aston Martin had a proud new owner, and Pugliese, being the brilliant businessman he was, got his hands on a rare collector's item that would later skyrocket in price. The real estate mogul might have paid close to $300,000 for the car, but it was a cheap investment in comparison to what was going to come…
Fast forward 2 years, and the overall insured value of the Aston Martin skyrocketed to $700,000! A year following that, the famous vehicle hit $1 million dollars - and it didn't stop there. In 1991, the Aston Martin increased to $4 million, leaving plenty of people very curious. And that's when things took a dark turn.
Safe & Sound, For Now
Now that Pugliese owned one of the most valuable prized possessions of all time, endless people began eyeing the vehicle. The collector's item was kept under lock and key in the Boca Raton Airport in Florida - until one night, things went terribly wrong…
Up until now, the vehicle was protected from any potential theft. But fast forward 11 years, and things were about to change. During one fateful night in 1997, as the item sat in its hangar, a group of criminals was busy planning one of the riskiest heists to date.
Sneaking Into the Hangar
Despite the security guard watching the sought-after vehicle, a group of thieves decided to make it their mission to steal the prized possession. The 007 one-of-a-kind prop was now the primary goal for this group of bandits. And they were going to stop at nothing to make it happen.
The group of thieves researched everything - the Floridian airport, the guard shift times, and the entrances and exits required for their escape. Knowing the northern section of the airport was not guarded, they arrived in a tow truck and, at around midnight, opened the gate. But their mission was far from over.
So how did they get in? The driver of the truck somehow scored a card that allowed them to easily swipe through a slot to open the gate. They were officially one step closer to seizing the DB5. Though things were about to get a whole lot riskier...
Once the thieves were able to enter the airport successfully, the truck went right towards hangar number 11, where the mysterious car sat. The criminals, dressed down in dark caps and overalls, managed to cut the wires connected to the alarm system and saw off the door latch.
The Great Escape
And just like that, they successfully broke through all the security measures enforced in the Boca Raton Airport. In fact, when the security guard who was on duty saw the bright lights on the north side go off, he didn't do anything about it. If only he knew…
Unfortunately, he never could have imagined there was a heist going down in front of his very own eyes. Instead, he assumed the lights would come back on as the plans began moving again. But once they finally did, he was left stunned at the disturbing sight before him...
Let the Hunt Begin
The car had vanished. And no one, including the baffled guard, could figure out how it had possibly happened. Pugliese, who had been the proud owner of the Bond mobile, was devastated to hear his prized possession had gone missing. What was going on here?
Besides Pugliese being affected by the loss of the DB5, James Bond fans around the world were outraged and saddened by the news of the missing prop. In fact, the news of the theft caused fans to do a little research themselves and aid in the ongoing mystery.
Hailing In Outside Forces
A franchise as big as James Bond understandably grew a cult following, so it was no surprise that fans were invested in the missing Aston Martin. They were more than ready to hop on the case. People from all over the United States were calling the Boca police with tips.
Dedicated fans called in, saying that they had spotted the missing automobile. But with the number of calls they were getting, the sightings simply didn't add up. The supposed locations spanned from O'Hare Airport in Chicago to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, making it nearly impossible to track.
An Inside Job?
As fans continued to try and crack the case of the missing prop, one woman introduced a theory of her own that involved Pugliese himself. The spectator alleged that the real estate mogul stole the car himself in order to claim the insurance money - so she called up the police and let them know all about it.
Pugliese was beyond livid at the accusation and immediately shot down the rumors. However, the car owner refused to take a lie detector test, while his lawyer continued trying to prove his innocence. Sure enough, police eventually confirmed the businessman's whereabouts that night and ruled him out.
Following a New Lead
The headlines eventually came to a close after Pugliese's lawyer proved his innocence. But the question remained: who stole the mysterious DB5? There were still so many unanswered questions. How was it possible for the car to simply disappear without a trace just like that?
Fast forward two decades, and the unsolved case suddenly took a shocking turn: an Aston Martin DB5 with the exact same features as the missing car was reportedly spotted in the Middle East. The car's VIN also matched the stolen vehicle, so the lead looked pretty strong. But tracking it down was a whole other story…
Headed to the Middle East
Now that the Aston Martin was allegedly found, what would happen next? After all, it's not so easy to just track down a stolen car twenty years later -all based on one sighting. So what would be the plan? Officials had one chance. They had to tread very carefully.
First, investigators had to determine the exact location of the stolen car in the Middle East. According to the source, the vehicle could have been in four places: Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia, and was believed to be a part of a private car collection.
What Do the Experts Have To Say?
Christopher A. Marinello, an expert in the recovery of stolen artifacts and stolen art, came to an interesting conclusion. Though there are two replicas of the car that exist, he believed the current owner of the original Aston Martin doesn't know that the vehicle was actually stolen.
However, Marinello agreed that the original "hero car" is located in one of the four countries. "It's my policy to give possessors of stolen and looted objects every opportunity to do the right thing," he assured. In addition, The Most Famous Car In The World podcast is offering a $100,000 reward to anyone who can find the car.
Secondhand Treasure Hunt
Unfortunately, fast forward to today, and the famous car still has yet to be located. But in the meantime, there are several other on-screen treasures to keep us occupied. After all, the DB5 wasn't the only James Bond item to go missing before reappearing under rather strange circumstances…
For many Bond fans (and those who are fans of garage sales), exploring someone else's trash could literally turn into someone else's treasure. Nearly 10 years ago, in 2013, a man went on a gadget search at a few garage sales. And although he was disappointed at the time, things quickly changed…
The Breitling Discovery
The anonymous man explored a variety of garage sales until he landed on one in particular. His eye caught the arrangement of old watches. And at first, none of them caught his attention. However, after pondering the outdated watches, one quickly caught his eye.
The man picked up this rather unusual watch, but something about it felt like he needed to have it. After exploring the other options, he landed on the Breitling watch - which is a relatively high-end accessory brand. Although the piece was a little hefty, it looked so familiar. Where had he seen it before?
Making a Deal
Even though it looked rather outdated, the man decided that he wanted to purchase the Breitling accessory. The additional metal around the sides made it look like it was from a few decades ago, but he didn't seem to care. So for £25 (about $30), he took it home.
The new watch owner didn't think much of his new purchase for a while. He copped a new watch, and that was that. However, as he was watching TV one fateful night, he suddenly noticed something. And once he put the pieces together, his jaw dropped to the floor.
The 1965 Bond movie, Thunderball, came on the screen as the man was flipping through the channels. Thunderball was Sean Connery's fourth time as the official 007 agent - but one particular moment in the film had the newfound watch owner completely stunned.
For those unaware, the film follows Bond as he is instructed to recover two explosives from a NATO plane that went missing. The dedicated agent sets off to put a stop to the villains behind the heist, as he wears a particular object that assists in all the adventures...
007's Top Time Accessory
What object are we referring to? Of course, the 1962 Breitling Top Time watch, which happened to have a covert Geiger counter to measure radiation. As the new watch owner sat watching the film decades later, he couldn't help but question if his new purchase was the one seen in the film. Could it be?
The man convinced himself there was no way that his flea market purchase could be the famous watch seen in the James Bond film. How would that be possible? The props were extremely valuable and wouldn't be so easily found - especially for such a low price! He must have found a replica, right?
Could It Be the Watch?
It was officially time to get to work. The new watch owner did some research on Bond and his watches and found out some pretty interesting news. As it turned out, the special agent typically wore a Rolex watch in most films (laser included). It was rare to see Bond in a Breitling - making the prop extra special.
The thought of landing a rare item from a James Bond movie excited the new watch collector, so he decided to take the Breitling watch to get appraised. It was later confirmed by a horologist that the watch, in fact, was an authentic 1960s Breitling. However…
The man was so excited by the thought of potentially landing an invaluable prop that it didn't occur to him that there could be some room for error. After he took the watch to get appraised, he found out that the Geiger counter feature was actually fake.
However, that checked out. It would be pretty hard for a watch to read radiation without some good old special effects involved. On the bright side, the expert did share with the watch owner that he might have landed the original film prop. What now?
Breaking the News
The new watch owner was thrilled to know his second-hand watch was actually worth a lot more than he bargained for. As much as he admired the piece, he was more curious about how much he could get for it. And lucky for him, Christie's, an auction company, had a pop-culture sale lined up.
The pop-culture auction taking place at Christie's in London actually had some unique pieces from various James Bond films, so adding another one to their collection was welcomed. The verified Thunderball prop was guaranteed to attract a large audience of fans - and, more importantly, their wallets.
Worth the Big Bucks
The British auction house, founded over 250 years ago, has locations all over the world for audiences to gather together and place bids on some unbelievably valuable and prestigious items. Christie's is known for buying and selling exquisite art and luxurious pieces - as well as leading private sales.
The leading experts at the auction house deemed the Thunderball watch could potentially reach bids for over $80,000. Considering the man who purchased the watch at a garage sale for originally 25 pounds was now about to see the watch go for 80 grand, one would say he was pleasantly surprised…
The Delicate Details
The watch was getting major traction for being featured on James Bond himself - but also for its timeless features. For the lucky owner who was scoring the Thunderball watch, there was definitely a lot to consider. But the watch's beauty really spoke for itself…
The James Bond specially modified Breitling Top Time wristwatch was only seen in the 1965 film Thunderball. It was manufactured just a few years before. The prop was comprised of a wide stainless steel face with a black dial, luminous hands, and two subsidiary dials.
The watch was estimated to be sold for a whole lotta thousands - but would it even reach the estimate? Oh yes, it would. As soon as the auction went live, the bids started heavily rolling in. The staff could hardly maintain their excitement. History was about to be made!
The bids were not stopping - and the Thunderball watch quickly became a hot item on the docket. Of course, any Bond memorabilia would be worth the big bucks. But considering how much it was originally purchased for made it extra noteworthy. In the end, the watch nearly doubled in price and was bought for $160,175.
The Legacy Lives On
The lucky new watch owner was eager to snag the elusive Bond prop. Little did the new buyer know how much (well, how little) the watch first sold for. Safe to say, the saga will go down as one of the greatest garage sale finds of all time. Nonetheless, owning a James Bond original prop is a feat only a lucky few will ever achieve.
Look no further than Anthony Pugliese, who had his prized possession taken away in the blink of an eye. As for if he'll ever see his Aston Martin again? Perhaps only time will tell. "I'm hopeful that the possessor will come forward voluntarily," Marinello assured. Until then, stay tuned…