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 in acquiring the legal document at auction and provided financial support for its purchase. 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.