'R' license plate fetches $25.5m in auction

A "R" personalized car plate went for HK$25.5 million in a Transport Department auction yesterday, making it the second priciest after another single-letter car plate "W' was sold for HK$26 million in 2021.

The single-letter "R" plate was the focus among 49 personalized car plates up for grabs at the auction held at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

A total of HK$30.7 million was generated at the auction, with a total of 41 car plates sold.

Starting at its base price of HK$5,000, bids for the "R" plate rose to HK$9 million in a minute and ballooned from there .

After some 60 bids, a woman bagged the car plate for HK$25.5 million, or 5,100 times the starting price.

It was the second priciest license plate sold, with the "W" plate going for HK$26 million after 119 bids in March 2021, marking a 5,200-fold jump from the base price.

Car plate "292" was sold for HK$850,000, the second-highest in yesterday's auction.

A bidder, Ip, said he could not get his ideal car plate, pointing to the fierce competition in the auction room.

When asked if he had placed a bid for the "R" plate, Ip said he could not afford to buy it.

"I would buy it if the car plate was sold for HK$25.50," he said jokingly.

Another bidder, Ngan, an owner of registration number supplier Lucky Number Center, said he was not surprised by the "R" plate fetching HK$25.5 million.

"It's hard to estimate how much billionaires are willing to pay for a car plate. It would not surprise me if one were to be sold for HK$50 million in future," he said.

Ngan said the rich treat car plates as investments and single-letter or single-number plates were the most preferred by bidders.

During the first day of the auction on Saturday, the Transport Bureau/Department sold a total of 186 personalized car plates, bringing in about HK$3.4 million.

Of the 186 car plates sold on Saturday, license plate "10VE Y0U" hit the top at HK$310,000, followed by "1 RR" at HK$110,000, "N0THANKS" at HK$40,000, and "0NE 1ST" at HK$28,000.

"The sale proceeds of traditional vehicle registration marks, after the deduction of expenses, will go to the Government Lotteries Fund for charity purposes," a Transport Bureau spokesman said yesterday.

He also reminded those who bought a personalized car plate must apply to the commissioner for the vehicle registration mark within 12 months after the date of the auction, so as to assign the car plate to a vehicle registered in the name of the purchaser.