LAS VEGAS (December 2020) – The Mob Museum, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, announces the acquisition of two rare artifacts which will be displayed temporarily from Dec. 17 through January 10, 2021 on the second floor of the Museum. The new artifacts provide fascinating insights into the origins of the Flamingo Hotel and the Mob’s role in building modern Las Vegas. They will be on permanent display beginning later in 2021.
Details about the newly acquired artifacts follow:
Legal Document Signed by Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel
This authentic two-page legal document, signed by Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and dated March 19, 1947, formally removed William R. “Billy” Wilkerson from any involvement with the Flamingo Hotel.
It is a common misconception that Siegel was the sole developer of the Flamingo. In fact, Siegel only became involved after its original developer, Wilkerson, ran short on funds during construction. Wilkerson turned to members of the Mob, including Siegel, to invest in the project. Amid conflicts between Wilkerson and Siegel during construction, Siegel pushed Wilkerson out and seized full control of the Flamingo, which operated under the Nevada Project Corporation. For decades after the Flamingo’s opening, the public came to believe Siegel was the resort’s original visionary. This document bolsters the true story that Wilkerson actually conceived and started building the Flamingo.
The document was executed just three months before Siegel was assassinated in Beverly Hills, California. No one was ever prosecuted for the killing. The Mob continued to control the Flamingo Hotel after Siegel’s death, and it became one of the most iconic resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. The Flamingo Hotel marquee still shines on the Strip today, although none of the original buildings built by Wilkerson and Siegel still stands.
Wilkerson’s Down Payment Check
The second artifact is the original check Wilkerson wrote as a down payment to purchase the land on which the Flamingo would be built. The check, written for $9,500 and dated March 5, 1945, was addressed to a local businesswoman named Margaret Folsom. Ultimately, Wilkerson paid $84,000 for the 33-acre parcel.
The Museum’s Acquisition
Before being acquired by the Museum, both artifacts had been in the possession of Wilkerson’s son, Willie Wilkerson. Author of two books about his father, Willie’s most recent publication is titled “Hollywood Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Billy Wilkerson.” Ralph De Luca, a prominent collector and member of The Mob Museum’s Advisory Council, aided the Museum with his expertise and financial support. The Museum acquired the down payment check directly from Willie Wilkerson.
“These artifacts provide our visitors with important insights into the full and accurate history of the Flamingo Hotel,” said Geoff Schumacher, vice president of exhibits and programs, The Mob Museum. “They shed essential light on the earliest days of the Mob’s involvement with the Las Vegas casino industry.”
To ensure the safety of staff and visitors, all guests are required to wear face coverings. All personnel of The Mob Museum have a comprehensive public safety operational plan to follow which can be found here.
For more information, please call (702) 229-2734 or visit themobmuseum.org.
ABOUT THE MOB MUSEUM
The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, provides a world-class journey through true stories—from the birth of the Mob to today’s headlines. The Mob Museum offers a provocative, contemporary look at these topics through hundreds of artifacts and immersive storylines. Numerous interactive exhibits include a Crime Lab, Firearm Training Simulator and Organized Crime Today exhibit. The Museum is also home to The Underground, a Prohibition history exhibition featuring a speakeasy and distillery sponsored by Zappos. The Mob Museum has accumulated numerous accolades, including being named one of TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 U.S. Museums,” one of Las Vegas Weekly’s “Twenty Greatest Attractions in Las Vegas History,” one of National Geographic’s “Top 10 Things to Do in Las Vegas,” USA Today’s “Best Museum in Nevada” and No. 1 in the 2020 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards for “Best Las Vegas Attraction” and one of its “12 Can’t Miss U.S. Museum Exhibits,” “A Must for Travelers” by The New York Times and one of “20 Places Every American Should See” by FOX News. The Museum is a two-time winner of the Mayor’s Urban Design Award for Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The Museum is open daily; visit the website for admission rates and operating hours. For more information, call (702) 229-2734, visit themobmuseum.org, or download the Museum’s free mobile app.
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