Juan Panesso runs CigarsDirect.com out of Westchase and deals in high-end cigars on a regular basis. But he says a cigar in Clearwater is about to lead to the biggest deal of his career.
It’s big in more ways than one. This deal is for a cigar nearly 19 feet long that is selling for $185,000 to a private collector.
The cigar is currently in a Clearwater warehouse, waiting to be shipped.
Panesso won’t say who bought the cigar or where it’s headed, only that the stogie is headed outside of the U.S. and to a collector who most people would recognize by name.
The deal started when a broker called looking for dozens of Gurkha His Majesty's Reserve cigars, which come with a price tag of $750 each. After a few more high-end deals, the same broker asked about the Gran Habano #5 El Gigante.
Panesso says the cigar was created as a display piece for trade shows, and he wasn’t even sure it was for sale. As he inquired about the giant cigar, everyone he spoke to was skeptical.
“Everybody along the way was like, ‘What? This is fraudulent, this is crazy,’ ” he said.
After some calls, he says his buyer got a pretty good deal. The $185,000 price tag is below the suggested retail price of $200,000.
The 1,600-pound cigar contains about 25,000 regular cigars worth of tobacco, Panesso says. The cost to ship the cigar and its crate is about $15,000.
Panesso says he hopes news of the sale will bring new people to his website and show that he can fulfill other high-end deals. But, he’s looking forward to seeing the cigar put on a plane.
"Fun to see it and take pictures. But I want finish the deal and see it gone,” he said.
He plans to ship the cigar in the next few days.
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