Talal Khouri, a Dubai-based stockbroker, made history recently when he became the owner of the world’s most expensive license plate. He won the expensive license plate after placing the winning bid during an auction to benefit individuals with special needs. Oddly, the expensive license plate displayed the number five. You would think the most expensive license plate in the world would at least read ‘1’ or maybe something clever alluding to the owner’s wealth.
Well, now it does.
Saeed Khouri, a businessman from a wealthy Abu Dhabi family, recently purchased a license plate emblazoned with the number one from an auction that sold around ninety other vanity plates. The auction brought in $24 million which, ironically enough, will benefit a rehabilitation center for victims of traffic accidents. $14 million of that came from the sale of the ‘1’ plate.
Comparatively, only $6.2 million was paid for the ‘5’ plate. That price was almost ten times as much as the former most expensive license plate, ‘M1’, which fetched about $660,000 in Yorkshire, Northern England.
Reporters asked Talal Khouri if the number ’5′ had any special or sentimental meaning to him. “The number does not mean anything to me. I will keep it and after my death it will be re-auctioned and probably raise more money that will again be given to charity and humanitarian work,” he added.
The owner of the current most expensive license plate, on the other hand, was not so humble. He reportedly said of the purchase, “I bought it because it’s the best number. I bought it because I want to be the best in the world.”
Unlike standard license plates in the UAE, these vanity plates include only a single Western digit and no Arabic letters or numerals.
Most Expensive License Plates in the US
The world’s most expensive license plates may have been issued in Abu Dhabi, but that doesn’t mean they get to have all the fun. While the UAE’s wealthy seek the prestige of affixing a license plate with a low number to the back of a luxury auto, the most expensive license plates in the United States are more likely to end up in the collections of license plate enthusiasts.
License plate collectors in the US are similar to stamp and coin collectors in that they’re interested not in how fashionable a plate will look on their car but rather in the scarcity and history of a plate. For example, Mississippi’s oldest license plates come from 1912—a time when that state was the poorest in the nation. Now, a 1912 Mississippi license plate is the third most expensive in the US at $35,000. Strangely enough, there are more surviving 1912 plates than 1913 plates. That’s why the second most expensive plate is a 1913 Mississippi plate that sold for $50,000.
The most expensive license plate in the US is one of only four 1921 Alaska plates known to have survived since the time before the territory was officially a state. The plate’s rarity can be attributed to the fact that, in those days, Alaska just didn’t have the roads to support a lot of cars and even getting the auto to Alaska was an expensive undertaking. This particular license plate was sold in 2000 in a Wendy’s parking lot in Maine for the hefty sum of $60,000.