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What price vanity? $14 million for license plate

A license plate with nothing but the number "1" on it went for a record $14 million at a charity auction Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
EMIRATES VANITY PLATE
Saeed Khouri, foreground, and others bid on a No. 1 vanity license plate during a charity auction in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Khouri won with a bid of $14 million.Manuel Salazar / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A license plate with nothing but the number "1" on it went for a record $14 million at a charity auction Saturday.

Saeed Khouri, a member of a wealthy Abu Dhabi family, wouldn't say how many automobiles he owned or which of them might carry the record-breaking single-digit plate.

"I bought it because it's the best number," said Khouri, whose family made its fortune in real estate. "I bought it because I want to be the best in the world."

The oil-rich UAE began auctioning off vanity license plates last May.

Ordinary automobile license plates issued to drivers here — and even most other vanity series plates — carry both Arabic and Western numerals and script, defining the issuing city and country.

Khouri's plate, however, has only the Western numeral and no letters.

The record sale surpassed the $6.8 million that was paid for an Emirati license plate at an earlier auction with the Western number 5 on it — also without Arabic numerals or letters.

A licence plate is seen in a display case prior to the start of a charity auction in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008. The value of vanity license plates climbed to new heights Saturday when a car license plate with nothing but No. "1" on it went for a record US$14 million (euro9.5 million) at a charity auction in the Emirati capital. Manuel Salazar / AP

Proceeds from the auctions, which are held in a lavish hotel here, go to a rehabilitation center for victims of traffic accidents.

On Saturday, 90 license plates were auctioned off in all, raising a total of $24 million. The previous five such events raised more than $50 million.