Most people don’t give a second thought to their license plates.
We all know the routine. Line up at the DMV, shell out an eye-twitching amount of money, and get a set of perfectly ordinary license plates to put on your car. If you’re feeling flush, maybe you’ll dole out a bit more for a personalized plate, if it means that much to you. But would you pay $410,000 for a license plate? That’s exactly what someone has just done in Delaware.
At Emmert Auction Associates in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, license plate No. 20 – pictured in the center above – crossed the block last week. When it was all said and done, William “Butch” Emmert auctioned it off for $410,000. And that’s not even the most expensive one he’s seen, either. According to an NPR report, the No. 6 plate sold for about $700,000. Not just anyone can buy these plates, however. You have to be a resident of the state of Delaware and carry a Delaware driver’s license.
Why are they so expensive? It’s not necessarily because the plate is tied to a celebrity or anything of that sort. In fact, the plate itself isn’t what has value, according to Emmert. “What you’re actually doing is your exchanging tags with someone who has a worthless tag,” he told NPR. “Now, it’s not the plate, it’s the number. It’s a way of transferring wealth from one generation to another. It’s like getting a great piece of art.” In Delaware, the governor gets plate No. 1, while the lieutenant governor gets No. 2 and the Secretary of State gets No. 3. All the plates beyond that are fair game, and the lower the number, the better.
These plates have gained value over the years, and will likely continue to rise. This particular plate came from “a lovely lady that passed away of some means and wasn’t a celebrity, but anybody that has a tag like that inherently is a celebrity in the state of Delaware.”
No information was available as to who actually bought the plate, nor whether it’s going to be attached to a particular car. But for the person who bought it, plate No. 20 is an investment that may return a tidy gain, should it head to auction in the future. As it stands, you could either have this plate for $410,000, or a Rolls-Royce Phantom. You choose.
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