An Italian drug gang, hard-pressed for cash, devised an elaborate plan to steal a Ferrari and hold it for ransom. It sounds like a plot treatment ripe for an Italian Job-style spin-off, but there’s just one odd detail: it wasn’t a car they were after. It was a human corpse.
According to NBC News, some 34 members of the legendary Anonima Sequestri gang in Sardinia were arrested in connection with an alleged scheme to kidnap the entombed body of legendary sports car racer and entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari. They planned to steal the corpse from its resting place in an above-ground family mausoleum near Modena, Italy, and hold it for ransom against the living members of the Ferrari clan, according to local authorities.
Luckily, Italian police officers caught on to the plan before the gang had a chance to see it through. During a major raid involving police helicopters and parachute regiment officers that uncovered vast stores of illegal drugs and firearms, the blueprints for the body-snatching were also discovered.
“The gang had prepared everything in detail,” said Colonel Saverio Ceglie, head of the Italian military police. Evidence suggests that they had been cooking up the plan for more than a year and a half, with regular visits to the San Cataldo cemetery where Ferrari’s body lays alongside his father in an elaborate mausoleum complete with a model racecar on top.
The living members of the Ferrari clan may have even known about the plot, as it had been “in the works for years but never succeeded because of our extensive efforts,” according to Ceglie. Authorities have been eyeing the gang for quite some time, with 34 arrest warrants at the ready when they began the raid and another 11 people reportedly under investigation for further criminal activity.
Enzo Ferrari died in 1988 at the age of 90 after building an empire out of his savvy business skills and passion for fast, flashy cars. The prancing stallion logo now known and revered the world over started as a modest operation in central Italy in the 1940s, fueled by Ferrari’s experience as a race car driver.
Ferrari’s name has become synonymous with extravagance and style, a brand carefully curated not just by the company’s line of cars, but by the legend of the man himself. Not one but two Hollywood biopics on the life of Enzo Ferrari are reportedly in the works: one starring Robert DeNiro (with unconfirmed rumors of Clint Eastwood attached to direct), which will span Ferrari’s entire career; another, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Michael Mann, will zero in on the early stages of the Ferrari company.
By some accounts, the members of the Anonima Sequestri gang, which is notorious for its kidnappings, planned to hold Ferrari’s body for a ransom of up to $10 million. It’s just the latest bizarre twist in the life (and afterlife) of a man who forever changed the name of the game in racecar driving.