Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2000 | 11:05 a.m.
Adolf Hitler's limousine won't be coming to Las Vegas's Imperial Palace hotel-casino.
For the last three decades, the bulletproof black Mercedes-Benz has been on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada. Last week, Museum Director Dr. Jack Granatstein floated the idea of selling the car -- said to be worth as much as $20 million (Canadian) -- as a means of raising money to build a new war museum.
The Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported that Imperial Palace hotel-casino owner and vintage car collector Ralph Engelstad in Las Vegas expressed interest in buying the car. This story was picked up and distributed by Reuters, the worldwide news service.
However, Imperial Palace attorney Owen Nitz today denied that report.
"No one from the Imperial Palace, including Ralph, has been in contact with the museum," he said. "If there's a buyer (for the car) in Las Vegas, it's not us."
During the last week an outcry against the sale arose, with members of the Canadian public expressing concern the car could be used to glorify the Third Reich.
Bowing to public pressure, Granatstein said Tuesday the car would not be sold. He also denied ever receiving an offer from Engelstad to purchase the car.
"I never talked to him, I don't know him," he told the Citizen. "As far as I know, he never made an offer (to buy the car.)"
In 1998, Engelstad was fined $1.5 million by the Nevada Gaming Commission for holding a party that featured a variety of Hitler-era memorabilia.
The 9,000-pound limousine, delivered to Hitler's motor pool in July, 1940, was given to the Canadian War Museum in 1970 as a gift from a Quebec businessman.
Even prior to the current controversy, Granatstein and other War Museum officials expressed concern over what to do with the infamous limousine.
Museum officials worried that displaying the sleek automobile could be viewed as glamorizing the Nazi era, while selling the car offered its own dangers.
"If we put it up for auction, we can't control who buys it," Granatstein told The Citizen. "If it fell into the wrong hands, we would feel very foolish, or worse."