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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May 2005, 00:55 GMT 01:55 UK
'Pope's car' sold for huge price
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI may not have a driving licence
The online auction company eBay says a US casino has paid about 189,000 euros ($244,000; 127,000) for a car said to have once belonged to the new Pope.

Registration papers suggest Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, might have been one of the Volkswagen Golf's previous owners.

The 1999 metallic grey hatchback was offered for sale by a German man.

It went under the hammer in favour of the online Golden Palace casino, of Austin in Texas, amid frenzied bidding.

The casino is said to have made unusual purchases in the past.

Its website also features a grilled cheese sandwich that is said to contain an image of the Virgin Mary, and a piece of roast chicken that purportedly resembles the face of the previous Pope, John Paul II.

'Bought for 10,000 euros'

The five-door car has 75,000 km (47,000 miles) on the clock, according to eBay's German site.

It was offered for sale by 21-year-old Benjamin Halbe, from the western German town of Olpe.

The trend to sell unusual objects on eBay appears to be growing
He said he had bought the car for just 10,000 euros in January, when the new Pope was still a cardinal.

"First I will buy a car, then I'm going on holiday," he said. "The rest will go into my account."

A spokeswoman for eBay in Germany, Daphne Rauch, said the price had doubled in the last 24 hours of bidding.

There were 8.4 million visits to the website during the 10-day auction, and bidding was fevered in the final minutes on Thursday - the Christian holiday of Ascension.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Ms Rauch.

However, according to French news agency AFP, the Pope probably never drove the car.

It quotes Roman Catholic Church sources as saying that he does not have a driving licence.

His private secretary is said to have bought the car for him in southern Germany, before taking it to the cardinal's residence in Rome and registering it in his name.

Profile: Pope Benedict XVI
19 Apr 05 |  Europe

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