The $87,000 Volkswagen Golf GTI that sold on Bring a Trailer last week sparked widespread speculation: Is this real life? And secondly: Is this sale legit? Commenters on BaT, Twitter, Reddit, and elsewhere wondered about the possibility of shill bidding or money laundering aloud, so we dug deeper and reached out to Bring a Trailer directly.
The auction platform gave an emphatic response:
“Bring a Trailer does not tolerate shill bidding, and there was no evidence throughout this auction to indicate anything other than legitimate bidding. We have confirmed that the bidders involved were legitimate, and that the buyer and seller have completed the transaction to a satisfactory outcome.”
Bring a Trailer is home to some of the most eye-popping car auctions in history. Vehicles regularly go for insane money on the site. There was a $145,000 Saab 900 Convertible, the $312,555 Subaru 22B, and the $315,187 Nissan Skyline GT-R before this $87,000 VW Mk2.
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Folks in Bring a Trailer's incredibly vocal comment section asked if what just happened was above board. The platform relies on its community of commenters to drive traffic to auctions and fuel the fire that makes the site so popular. It's a speculator’s dream, and astronomical sale prices are fairly commonplace. Yet it was the 53,000-mile Mk2 Volkswagen GTI that raised eyebrows. At $87,000, the car is the most expensive Mk2 GTI sold on the site, almost exactly double the price of the next most expensive one.
There was more cause for concern that played alongside the super high sale price. It was primarily two users who added $40,000 worth of bids without much competition, especially once it blew past $60,000, which led to accusations of shill bidding and money laundering. As far as we can tell, shill bidding isn't a common problem on Bring a Trailer, though we verified last April that it did indeed happen with a low-mile Nissan 240SX.
There was also concern that the sale would fall through, which is something I’ve experienced in my personal dealings with BaT. Sometimes, the top bidder refuses the car and the sale quietly falls through. In my case, I was contacted a month later to buy a BMW 330i ZHP that I dropped out of with my highest bid being $300 below the final. My stakes were admittedly much lower, but it does happen.
So yes, according to BaT, this auction was legit. One thing is for certain: this car won’t be the last to raise eyebrows.
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