'Simple Man' Buys License Plate for $9M

In UAE, single-digit plates are all the rage—and so Balwinder Sahni had to have a couple
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2016 2:48 PM CDT
'Simple Man' Buys License Plate for $9M
Proud of his multimillion-dollar plates.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Simple man: a Lynyrd Skynyrd song or how Balwinder Sahni describes himself to CNNMoney? Both, though based on what's being reported about the Indian property developer based in the UAE, it's hard to believe the latter. Sahni owns six Rolls-Royces, and two of his existing luxury cars boast a very special accouterment: license plates bearing one solitary number. One plate features the number "9," while the second claims "5"—and Sahni paid $9 million for it at a government auction in October, making it one of the largest amounts ever forked over for a novelty plate. The Independent notes he purchased another plate through the same auction for an additional million bucks. As for the No. 9 plate, Sahni, who's based in Dubai, had ponied up $6.7 million last year, underscoring the desire of the UAE elite to get their hands on the coveted single-digit plates.

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Big business has sprung up around these types of license plates, with private firms trying to get in on the secondary market where the license plates are traded. The record for license plate expenditures was set by an Arab businessman who paid around $14.4 million for the No. 1 plate in Abu Dhabi in 2008. Some people are criticizing Sahni for blowing his cash on these luxury tags. "It's hard, people giving comments without knowing the type of person I am," he tells CNN, noting that because there's no income tax in Dubai, what he's paying for his plates will likely go to charitable and infrastructure endeavors; the city's Roads and Transport Authority didn't say what it would do with its new windfall. (Here's a license plate you probably won't see in the UAE.)

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