October 29, 2005

Late pope’s Ford Escort sells for $680,000

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The only car the late Pope John Paul II
ever owned sold at auction for $680,000 on Saturday to a
Houston attorney and car collector.

The car, which fetched much less than previous estimates of
$2 million to $5 million, attracted four or five bids before
being purchased by John O'Quinn, said a spokeswoman for the
Kruse International auction house.

The 1975 powder-blue Ford Escort went on the auction block
in Las Vegas after a father-son ownership spat was resolved
earlier this month.

The humble four-door sedan was purchased through the same
auction house a decade ago by Illinois restaurateur Jim Rich
for $102,000. He put the vehicle on display under glass in his
suburban Chicago restaurant, but the establishment was forced
to close a year ago.

Rich, who is in bankruptcy, got into a court battle earlier
this year with his father, Jerome Rich, over a $1.7 million
debt the father said the son owed, delaying the car's auction.
A federal judge ordered the car given to Jerome Rich for

Father and son have settled their differences, and proceeds
of the sale will be distributed by Jim Rich's bankruptcy

Pope John Paul, who died in April, drove the car himself
and put 60,000 miles on it before giving it in 1996 to Kruse
International, an Indiana rare automobile museum and auction
house, to sell with the proceeds going to charity.