Bornheim/Bonn · Ferraris, Porsches: Claus Ritter, former head of the asparagus and strawberry farm, has spent millions on vintage cars. Meanwhile, the public prosecutor's office is investigating illegal activity.
Not bright red, but discreet dark blue. Even if the Ferrari 250 GTE, in which the Bornheim farmer Claus Ritter drives up to a vintage car gala in Schwetzingen, Baden-Württemberg, in a video from September 2017, is almost inconspicuous for an Italian sports car, it is still a legendary car. The car is an example of the first series from 1960, and the company founder Enzo Ferrari himself is said to have been at the wheel at one time. Experts estimate the market value of the GTE at 1.6 million Euro.
Purchase of classic cars financed by leasing companies
Photos, which are also available to the General-Anzeiger, show Ritter with a Ferrari factory prototype 1287 GT from 1959 - according to a catalogue, once also a personal car of Enzo Ferrari. Further photos show Ritter, whose Bornheimer Spargel and Erdbeerhof is insolvent, at the Ennstal Classic vintage car rally in Austrian Styria. The car he is sitting in this time is also a very special one: a Porsche 550 Spyder. The model gained sad fame when the American actor James Dean died in a fatal accident in one in 1955. It is probable that this tragic story explains why the Spyder today has a market value of between four and five million Euro.
Joint research by General-Anzeiger and the WDR regional studio in Bonn has revealed that Claus Ritter was the owner of a number of other classic cars of at least medium double-digit numbers and is presumably involved in illegal activity with these cars. Because Ritter was the possessor, but not the owner when he deposited some cars with special financial service providers as security to get money, the Bonn public prosecutor's office is investigating him.
According to information from GA and WDR, Ritter financed the cars through leasing companies. The cars remained the property of the financial service provider until they were paid off in full. As proof of ownership, the company kept the vehicle title. Nevertheless, Ritter is said to have pawned the cars that did not belong to him. According to research by GA and and WDR, Ritter is said to have misled the Road Traffic Office in Bonn, where he resides, in order to obtain the papers necessary for the sale. He did so by affirming the loss of the documents on oath.
According to the Bonn press office, the city is unable to provide information on the registration of Ritter's vehicles for reasons of data protection. Basically, a spokeswoman announces: If a car without a registration document is to be registered by the city, the registration office will check who is the owner and who is entitled to dispose of the vehicle. This could be done, for example, by presenting the sales contract. In this context, the authorities in Germany and the European Union will also check whether the vehicle is advertised as stolen.
If there are no indications of this, such a vehicle could be registered on presentation of the "normal documents" and, if necessary, by submitting an affidavit. According to information from GA and WDR, Ritter is said to have sworn such an affidavit.
The case of a personal loan, which he has not yet repaid, indicates how urgently Ritter may have needed money as early as 2018. He borrowed 100,000 euros from an acquaintance at the time. The condition for the loan was that Ritter repay the money within one month. This is reported by the lawyer who represents the son of the now deceased loan lender. In the meantime, the lawyer has obtained a legally binding title for the full amount. Corresponding documents are available to GA and WDR.
(Original text: Sven Westbrock and Tobias Al Shomer, Translation: Mareike Graepel)