MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said on Friday he won’t take up an Arab sheikh’s offer of $1 million for his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle because selling the car “would offend” the friends who bought it for him and his wife.
Mujica, whose modest lifestyle and forthrightness has won him admirers around the world, confirmed earlier this month that the $1 million bid for his “Fusca,” as the Beetle is known in Uruguay, was relayed to him in June during an international summit in Bolivia.
The car was bought with the proceeds of a collection taken up by friends of him and his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolansky, the president told M24 radio on Friday.
“We could never sell it, because we would offend that handful of friends who got together to give us that gift,” he said.
The couple now own two VW Beetles and Mujica said both cars “will vegetate” in the garages at their farm outside Montevideo as long as he and Topolansky are alive.
“Then the future will decide their destiny,” the septuagenarian president said.
Mujica’s sky-blue VW is in mint condition and the president is often spotted driving it around Montevideo.
Traveling without an escort, the head of state rolled up to a polling place in the Beetle on Oct. 26 to cast his ballot in Uruguay’s general election. He later drove his wife to another Montevideo precinct.
Mujica, who is nearing the end of his term, valued the car at 70,000 pesos ($2,850) on his most recent financial disclosure statement.