Beverly Hills Becoming Supercar Playground for Middle Eastern Mega Rich

Screengrab/DLMPhotos
Screengrab/DLMPhotos

L.A.'s supercar invasion was exemplified last weekend, when a $1.5 million Ferrari LaFerrari was captured on video racing a Porsche 911 GT3 on a residential street in Beverly Hills.

For the past few summers, rich young Saudis, Qataris, Kuwaitis and other Middle Easterners, accompanied by their personal Ferraris, Bugattis and Aventadors, have flocked to Beverly Hills after their former haunts in Paris, London, Cannes and Monaco became less receptive to the crush of super-expensive supercars with Arabic tags drawing crowds of gaping rubberneckers.

L.A.'s supercar invasion was exemplified last weekend when a $1.5 million Ferrari LaFerrari was captured on video racing a Porsche 911 GT3 on a residential street in Beverly Hills, nearly striking a Nissan Altima while running a stop sign at high speed.

A source tells THR that the car enthusiast who shot the video had earlier spotted the Ferrari driving recklessly on Rodeo Drive and had followed it to the house on Walden Drive, where the racing video was shot.

The owner of the car was identified by police as Qatari national Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani. It was reported that Al-Thani was a member of the Qatari ruling family, but Beverly Hills police said they could not verify if that was true. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Al-Thani of the royal family is obsessed with racing and owns Al-Anabi Racing, a professional drag-racing team on which he has spent millions. Authorities believe that the Al-Thani staying in Beverly Hills has left the country, police said. 

 

According to Los Angeles videographer and exotic car enthusiast Drake Mumford, supercar-owning Middle Easterners began choosing Beverly Hills for vacations after Saudi Arabian race car champion Yazeed Al-Rajhi, owner of a rare Pagani Huayra, brought the $1.4 million supercar to Los Angeles on his pre-Ramadan vacation stop in 2012. Al-Rajhi thus popularized L.A. as an alternative destination to London and Paris. Plus, L.A. "is a more supercar-friendly place," says Mumford. "In London they stay within a few miles of Knightsbridge, but from Beverly HIlls they'll travel to Santa Monica, Malibu and Newport Beach for meals."

This summer especially, Mumford adds, Beverly Hills has been "blowing up" with imported supercars from the Middle East: the owner of the LaFerrari in the racing video had, according to Mumford, also shipped over a $2.4 million Bugatti Veyron Super Sport and a Porsche 911 GT3.

Despite the reckless behavior exhibited in the recent street racing video, Mumford insists most visiting Middle Eastern supercar owners drive safely and worry they'll face the same bad rap that drove them from London and Paris to L.A. in the first place.

Getting all those supercars from Dubai to the Golden State has meanwhile become a cottage industry for Southern California-based shipping companies like Schumacher Cargo Logistics, which specializes in shipping rare and exotic cars by air.

Damien Shields, Schumacher's sales and marketing manager, says that it costs $15,000 to $20,000 to ship a car from the Mideast to L.A. via air cargo and that the company has been handling "a lot more cars" to and from the Mideast. The clients, he says, run from the "megarich who don't give a rat's ass" about the price to "people with all the money who still want the cheapest deal. People who are wealthy know the going rate — they're pretty shrewd."

In any event, Schumaker says, no matter how much coin one is willing to drop, seven to 10 days is the fastest you'll ever see your Lamborghini Huracan or Porsche 918 in the driveway of your Beverly Hills rental. The delay is largely due to customs and other official red tape that, at least in U.S., money can't make disappear.

Shields says that his company also does a brisk business shipping exotic cars — and entire car collections — purchased in L.A. at auction back to the Mideast.

"In Beruit we have clients who collect really high-end classic cars, like Mercedes SLs from the '50s. Car collecting is coming back in vogue globally — there's tons of money in art and fine motorcars."

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