NEW: Businessman Miles Nadal says he paid $300,000 for the vehicle
The car is among those used by the pontiff during his September trip to New York City
Proceeds will fund Catholic charities, just as a similar auction in Philadelphia did
The first chariot had red horses, according to the Bible. Well, this one has 101 horses.
Another popemobile has hit the auction block. The website Charitybuzz auctioned one of the Fiat 500s that toted Pope Francis around New York in September.
Miles Nadal, an entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, says he paid $300,000 for the car.
That’s more than 10 times the asking price for a new 101-horsepower Fiat 500 Lounge, which goes for between $19,000 and $21,000, depending on the features.
Of course, the most alluring featuring of this particular Fiat 500 is that the pontiff was its passenger.
Not that anyone’s questioning the church’s veracity, but for good measure, the Secret Service attested to the car’s authenticity, and the Archdiocese of New York will provide the winning bidder with a letter of confirmation, according to Charitybuzz.
Popemobile's key features
“It’s a great opportunity for us to continue the work that Pope Francis highlighted while he was here in New York,” said Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.
Though New York has hosted five papal visits over the years, this is the first time the church has been able to keep the cars he used.
“The popemobiles always go back to Rome when he’s done, so this is a first for us, and a first for whomever is fortunate enough to come away with the Fiat,” Zwilling said.
During his visit, the Pope celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, held a service at the 9/11 memorial and took a spin through Central Park with his motorcade.
Charitybuzz doesn’t say for which portion of Pope Francis’ visit the Fiat was used, but it does indicate he rode in more than one Fiat during his trip. The archdiocese was in possession of two of the Fiats. There are no plans yet for the second car, Zwilling said.
The car auctioned was used earlier this year when Monsignor Robert Ritchie, St. Patrick’s Cathedral’s rector, “drove the car to the cathedral where Cardinal Timothy Dolan reviewed it prior to its participation in the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. The Fiat was then driven for the rest of the parade route,” Charitybuzz said.
Nadal, 58, said he spent considerably above what he originally planned, but was happy to dig into his coffers for a good cause.
“I’m a huge fan of Charitybuzz and I was thrilled to be supporting the Catholic church’s work,” Nadal said. “This is a unique, one of a kind vehicle, and I had been following the auction with great interest.”
When asked if he’ll be taking the Papal carriage out on the road, Nadal chuckled and said, “Oh no. We’ll have people come and admire it, maybe sit in it, but it’s staying put.”
Charitybuzz said Dolan will meet with the buyer and personally bless the vehicle – as if driving the same vehicle that once ferried the vicar of Christ isn’t blessing enough.
“Even though I’m Jewish, I’ll take a blessing from the church!” Nadal said.
In January, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families auctioned off a Fiat that the Pope used during his September visit to the City of Brotherly Love.
The auction took place during a Philadelphia Auto Show black tie event that saw 19 bidders vying for the car in a process that took all of 11 minutes. Local auto dealers Michael and Kate Chapman bought the Philly Fiat for $82,000, according to CNN affiliate KYW.
Half the money went to four of the archdiocese’s missions, while the other $41,000 was donated to Mercy Hospice, Casa Del Carmen, and Schools of Special Education, according to the church.
CNN’s Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.